Whether you need to file a lawsuit or you are being sued and need to defend yourself, selecting the right law firm, and lawyer to represent you in your case is arguably the most important decision you will make. Your choice will set the tone for the rest of the case. You want to be certain the matter will be handled with skill, professionalism, and care, and you do not want to leave anything to chance. Here are a few tips for making sure you find the right law firm for your case:
Figure Out What Type of Lawyer You Need to Represent You
It may seem like this goes without saying, but it is so important that it bears repeating. If you are involved in a contract dispute with a business partner or a complex real estate transaction that has not quite worked out the way you thought it would, you should not retain a law firm or lawyer who specializes in handling personal injury cases. Instead, you should find a firm with at least one lawyer who specializes in commercial litigation or real estate transactions. You need to know enough about your case to find a lawyer who will be able to represent you effectively. Do not make an uninformed decision. If you do, you will likely regret it.
Ask Family, Friends, and People in Your Professional Network for Recommendations
The odds are good that at least one person you know in your personal or professional life has had to hire a lawyer at some point in the past. Ask people you know and trust for recommendations or advice about law firms and lawyers. Go in being mindful of each person’s respective biases, but keep in mind that they will do their best to steer you in the right direction if they really do care about you. You may be surprised at the valuable insights, and little bits of wisdom, your family, friends, and professional associates are able to give you when you ask for their honest opinions.
Know-How Much You Are Willing to Pay and How You Will Pay Your Lawyer
Costs are another big factor to consider when you are shopping for a law firm. They can vary widely, and you should not be shy in asking about the rate of any prospective lawyer charges. The last thing you want is to leave yourself in a position where a crucial deadline in your case is approaching rapidly, but you will not be able to pay your lawyer’s bill.
Not all lawyers structure their fees the same way. Many Vancouver lawyers simply charge their clients a negotiated hourly rate and send a bill at the end of each month, but not all do. For example, lawyers who represent plaintiffs in personal injury cases or consumer protection cases tend to do so on a contingency basis. This means that when you receive money from any other party in the form of a settlement or a judgment, you will pay your lawyer a predetermined percentage of that money.
Thirty-three percent is a fairly common contingency fee to pay for a lawyer’s services, but it is not unusual for the amount to be as little as twenty-five percent or as much as forty percent. If the case goes to trial and a jury verdict is rendered, you can expect that the amount of the contingency will be higher than it would have been if a settlement had been reached out of court.
Decide Whether or Not You Are Looking for Repeat Representation
Some types of cases lend themselves more to repeat representation than other types of cases do. Someone who is running a business will probably need a lawyer more frequently than, say, someone who has been injured in a car accident and wants to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Businesses tend to need legal services on a fairly regular basis, whereas injured individuals are far more likely to be one-time clients. Responsiveness to your questions and concerns is another issue you should consider before making your final decision. If your lawyer’s only payment will come only when your case is resolved through settlement or trial, keep in mind that they probably have quite a few cases pending at any given time and may not be quite as responsive to your inquiries as a lawyer who is charging you a flat hourly rate.
Interview Your Final Few Prospective Candidates
Once you have decided what type of law firm and lawyer you need to represent you, how much you are willing to pay and what type of fee structure you want, you should narrow down your choices and take the time to interview your final few candidates. Do not take this part of the process lightly. You should treat it like the job interview it is. Try to have in-person meetings, although phone meetings will work if a scheduling conflict keeps the two of you from having a face-to-face discussion.
Have a list of questions prepared, and take careful note of how each candidate answers all of them. You should pay close attention to all of the questions each candidate asks you, too. Sometimes their questions can reveal even more about them than the answers they give you.
In the End, You Have to Trust Yourself to Make the Right Decision
After you have put in the effort and done all your homework, you will need to make a decision about which law firm will represent you.
Following the steps above will ensure that you have done your due diligence, considered nearly all of the factors that could impact your case, and engaged in an appropriate amount of deliberation. You can only do so much preparation. Eventually, you just have to trust that after having collected as much information as you are able and giving all your potential choices enough thought, you will make the right decision for yourself and your loved ones.