How do I find the right attorney?
- Ask a friend or some other person in whom you have confidence for a recommendation, particularly if they have had a similar problem.
- If you know a lawyer, ask him or her for a recommendation.
- Most local attorney associations maintain lawyer reference services which can be of help. They do not all work in the same manner, but generally list the names of lawyers who have asked to be placed on the panel and will give you the name of such a lawyer upon request. Some panels merely list lawyers in alphabetical order and simply give the caller the next lawyer on the list. Others, however, have attempted to qualify the lawyers insofar as the areas in which they practice and will give you a lawyer who at least deems himself competent to handle that particular type of case about which you may be calling. You can ask the panel how they make their determination. All reference panels assure that the lawyer given to you will charge only a minimal fee for the first consultation.
- Check the yellow pages of your telephone book under “Attorneys.” If you follow this procedure you may want to talk to more than one attorney. Under a State Bar pilot program, lawyers have been certified as specialists in the following areas of law: Appellate; Criminal; Estate Planning, Trust and Probate; Family; Immigration and Nationality; Personal and Small Business Bankruptcy; Taxation; and Workers’ Compensation. The yellow pages of your phone book would list the specialty with the attorney’s name.
- You may want to check the law lists available at your local law library. These lists generally provide background information on the attorneys listed. Don’t be afraid to contact an attorney because of cost. Many lawyers will give you, for little or no charge, a consultation as to whether or not you need an attorney. When you visit an attorney, ask yourself: How do I like this person? Does the attorney seem to know what he or she is talking about? Does he or she seem concerned with me and my problem? When in doubt, don’t hesitate to talk to more than one attorney. This is an important decision, treat it as such. Remember, you are the consumer, the attorney is not doing you a favor by taking your case. On the other hand, the attorney is a professional and if you hire a lawyer you should be prepared to consider the advice carefully.
What about fees?
Attorneys set fees in various ways. One method is to charge by the hour. This rate is based upon his or her office overhead and other costs of doing business, plus an amount which will reasonably compensate for the attorney’s time. The entire charge is lumped under the attorney’s time. Fees on an hourly basis generally range from about $80.00 per hour to over $200.00 per hour depending upon several things, including the attorney’s experience, skill, overhead, and other factors.
Some attorneys will also charge a flat fee, one price for the entire handling of a case. The amount of the fee does not insure a first class job. In the final analysis, quality of service should be your prime concern.
Is cost the only consideration?
If the contract is on a contingency fee basis, state law requires that at the time the contract is entered into, the attorney shall provide you with a duplicate copy signed by both you and the attorney.
What should I do if an investigator or attorney contacts me?
The guidelines give accident victims information about their legal rights, hiring an attorney and how to compare different legal services including information regarding:
- the importance of maintaining records relating to an accident,
- the time limits to file insurance claims,
- the differing interests victims may have with insurance companies involved,
- the right to check a lawyer’s qualifications, and
- the cost of legal services.
“Because we cannot control contact by insurance companies, medical providers, car repair shops and a host of other groups, some of us on the Supreme Court decided that to impose a no-contact rule for lawyers only was not a prudent choice”.[/accordion_toggle]ArrayWhen I retain a lawyer, I am entitled to one who:
- WILL be capable of handling my case.
- WILL represent me zealously and seek any lawful means to present or defend my case.
- WILL preserve my confidences, secrets or statements which I reveal in the course of our relationship.
- WILL give me the right to make the ultimate decision on the objectives to be pursued in my case.
- WILL charge me a reasonable fee and tell me, in advance of being hired and upon my request, the basis of that fee.
- WILL show me courtesy and consideration at all times.
- WILL exercise independent professional judgment in my behalf, free from compromising influences.
- WILL inform me periodically about the status of my case and, at my request, give me copies of documents prepared.
- WILL exhibit the highest degree of ethical conduct.
- WILL refer me to other legal counsel, if he or she cannot properly represent me.
The material herein represents general legal advice. Since the law is continually changing, some provisions in this information may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities regarding your particular case