Chapter 1: Which Lawyer is Right for the Job?

How do you determine which attorney is right for the job? Obviously, the amount of time and energy you spend shopping will depend on the urgency of the situation (e.g., an arrest) and the significance of your legal needs (e.g., a trademark violation). You need a lawyer who understands where you are coming from and who will help you get where you want to go, when and how you want to get there.

(1) Screening calls: call each prospect on your list, explain your legal problem, and ask if they handle matters such as yours. Ask generally what their fee, or range of fees, would be for the service. If you like the answers you get, schedule a personal visit (be sure to ask if there will be a charge).

(2) The get-acquainted meeting: How else would you find out which attorney has the most appeal to you?

You will want to prepare questions to ask the prospective lawyer at your get-acquainted meeting. See Chapter 11: Questions You Should Ask a Prospective Attorney, for a list of general questions and links to lists of practice-specific questions that would be more tailored to your situation. Your questions should, at the very least, cover basic issues, such as the attorneys’ level of experience in handling cases like yours; how much they charge for and how they bill for their services; who will cover any expenses; how do they bill for specific costs, such as phone calls, faxes and photocopies; and how often will you be updated on the progress of your case.

What attorney will get the starring role will depend on the answers to those basic questions, how enthusiastic the attorney is with the case, and how comfortable you are with the attorney on a personal level. Judge the attorney the same way you have learned to judge others. If you’re in sync, give him or her the green light.

Postscript: Any attorney who “guarantees” results, duck for cover. Airtight cases don’t exist.

Introduction: How to Hire a Lawyer
Chapter 1: Which Lawyer is Right for the Job?
Chapter 2: Attorney Fees
Chapter 3: Attorney Fee Agreements and Bills
Chapter 4: Low and No-Cost Options for Legal Representation
Chapter 5: The Attorney-Client Relationship
Chapter 6: Lawyers and Communication
Chapter 7: Lawyers and Competence
Chapter 8: Lawyers and Confidentiality
Chapter 9: Lawyers and Conflicts of Interest
Chapter 10: Mad at Your Lawyer?
Chapter 11: Questions You Should Ask a Prospective Attorney