Legal fees are a cost of doing business and a cost of life. While the internet has made it easy to do some of the very mundane work on your own (say, filing for incorporation or ginning up a bare-bones operating contract), do-it-yourself lawyering has huge limitations. The trick is finding and hiring the best, most trustworthy professional help for the best cost. Regardless of your feelings towards lawyers, when you need one, they can be your best friend when it comes to legal advice. A good lawyer works with you, helps you understand the situation, and guides you to the best possible result. To do that, they need a client they can work with.
To find the right lawyer for your particular situation, first you should seek advice from your friends, neighbors and colleagues. This initial search may not turn up any attorneys with the specific legal advice you need, but don’t despair. Recommended attorneys may know a few attorneys perfect for your job. Lawyers know other lawyers, so use them for recommendations. You also may want to do some research online. Lawyers.com and findlaw.com can be useful, but keep in mind that those attorneys pay to be listed there.
Before finalizing your decision and choosing an attorney, reach out to a few different law firms. Ask about pricing, size, and general law. Then, set up an initial consultation. At your first meeting, ask a lot of questions…
- How many similar matters have you handled?
- What were the results of those cases?
- Which lawyer in the firm will be working on your case?
- Will there be any limitations on the scope of the representation?
- How will you be kept informed about the progress of the case?
- What’s their communication style? Do you usually respond immediately to phone calls and e-mails?
- What’s the best way top reach you after normal business hours?
Legal Advice: Working with a Lawyer
Once you’ve found the right lawyer, the next step is figuring out how to work with that lawyer successfully. Here’s a few things to keep in mind.
If you have questions, always ask them. Your attorney should be able to explain things clearly, in a manner you understand. If you want to know more about the lawyer’s experience, or with your type of issue, ask about that, too. If those variables don’t add up, you’re uncomfortable, or you’re worried your lawyer is less interested in representing your interests and more interested in making a statement or earning a ton of money, don’t work with that lawyer. The importance of honesty shouldn’t be underestimated. Whatever your issue is, tell them early so they can prepare and adjust their case for it. If you’re sitting on information and wondering if its relevant, ask them if it is.
Finally, try your best to work with them—or even make their life a little easier. If your lawyer needs something from you, it’s extremely important to get it to them on time. Don’t put it off, don’t assume that Friday is the same as Monday morning. It may seem unfair since your lawyer may be the one asking for continuances or delays, but if they tell you they need something by a certain date, they really need it.