When Christie had to have her tooth removed due to a gum infection, she didn’t choose a gynecologist. She chose a dentist. Even then she chose a dentist reputed for root canal procedure. When Mohammed wanted a lawyer needed to design his house, he preferred the services of an architect to the local draughtsman. When many people need a lawyer, they go to the local lawyer down the street. There are lawyers and there are lawyers and just like doctors, architects or any other professionals, lawyers do have their specialization. A lawyer who does work in oil and gas sector cannot effectively help someone who is going through a divorce and needs to fight for the custody of the children. A client whose business idea has come to fruition and needs a lawyer to advice on company formation and contracts, would not find himself in the office of a lawyer who deals with inheritance and probate. Even among broad specializations there are professionals who have fine-tuned their niches and are able to recommend from their network of niche colleagues. Among commercial lawyers you have tax specialists, being a narrower niche in that sector.
Among family lawyers are those who specialize in inheritance issues as there are those whose forte is divorce and custody of children. When one is going through or contemplating a divorce, it is imperative that he gets a good divorce lawyer to help him through the maze. Before you choose any lawyer for your family or any issues, there are many considerations that you need to have.
Many people search online for a lawyer. They see the profile of a few lawyers and simply call up a couple, have a conversation and expect the lawyer to fit their requirements. They are moved by the claims of such lawyers. Who wouldn’t be moved by a long client list, especially if they are dotted along with a few known and high-profile names? Who wouldn’t be moved by a lawyer whose online profile shows him as the legal tiger? It is important for you to go beyond the claims. You need to physically connect with the lawyer, either by a visit or through video conferencing. Many times, you do not need an antagonistic lawyer but one who can hold or restrain you if that’s what you need. You do not need a lawyer who will antagonise a judge if you need to attend court. You need a lawyer who will aggressively pursue your best interest. Searching for a lawyer online is a trend that has come to stay and there are many of them, who deliver a great service, giving out content daily online.
Have you received legal information or advice of a general nature from a lawyer and their advice seemed to work to meet your need at that particular time? You are awed by what you think is their prowess as a lawyer and you want to do business with them. Your matter wasn’t a family matter but your friend needs a divorce lawyer, and so you recommend this lawyer whose niche you do not and have never asked.
You recommend the lawyer to your friend, but wait a minute; on what basis did you do so? Have you stopped to ask what service they provided to you at any given time? Are you awed by the lawyer because he comes on radio weekly to talk about road traffic matters whereas you need a lawyer who will advise you on inheritance matters?
Lawyers are usually the best source of referral for their friends. A lawyer should not take a brief because his client’s father is a major client of the firm. He ought to be the best source of referrals, because they all work in one market. It may be that they are not friends, but have worked on opposing sides and he doffs his hat to the lawyer’s attentions to details. It may be any other reason.
Friends who have been served by a lawyer who has worked for them in the same area of law, are another source of referrals for the particular lawyer. It is important when referring a lawyer to have had personal experience of the work he does.
Excellent lawyers are usually busy. It is a god question to ask yourself if they would be able to work in a timely manner on your case. What are the time management skill of a busy lawyer? These are soft issues that may appear not important when we choose a busy lawyer but may come back to haunt and frustrate us when we find that our matter isn’t getting the desired attention.
Res ipsa loquitor!!! If you are not versed in legal language, it may sound like Greek to you. It is Latin, not Greek. A lot of lawyers use Latin phrases while communicating with clients and expect that they will follow their thoughts. While the phrase may mean ‘let the facts speak for themselves’ an anxious client does not want to have to decode his lawyer’s communication. Does the lawyer breakdown legal convolution for you? Does he breakdown what he is saying such that you understand it as normal language? Is he really listening to you while you talk, or just waiting for you to finish before going on? Good communication is very important between a lawyer and his client. Make sure you hire someone who you can communicate well with.
When we choose a doctor, we are concerned about living a healthy and fruitful life. Such are the considerations too when we choose a lawyer. Just as you would not allow a general practitioner to perform open heart surgery on you, make sure that the lawyer you choose knows the terrain of the matter you bring to him.
Remember that as you assess the lawyer, he ought to be assessing you too. He wants to know if you can afford his costs. He knows or has an idea of the possible costs. When his fees are too good to be true, then they are possibly not true. His brief from you ought to include a clear understanding of what the fees will cover. Some lawyers do not include out of pocket expenses in their costs. These are costs of administering the brief, they would include payments to court and other facilitation parties. Some might give you an initial cost continue billing, other may be silent on a total cost that but ask for a deposit. An unwitting client may believe that is the extent of his fees, when it is only a starting point.
Every lawyer is concerned about the possibility of a client’s level of information. While it is a good thing to make enquirers from friends and family, a client who appears to be weighted by advice that is contrary to what the lawyer is saying, is not an ideal client for any lawyer.
Be that as it may, in employing a lawyer, understand your goals in the brief and ensure that you work with a lawyer who would work with you to achieve those goals.