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Your Guide to Hiring a Lawyer

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Choosing a lawyer may be the most important step when trying to resolve complicated legal issues. An attorney's experience, abilities and knowledge of the law are key factors that can greatly impact the outcome of your case. Your attorney will review the latest legal developments pertaining to your claim, advise you of your options and guide you through every step of the complicated legal process as it unfolds. A highly qualified lawyer who is well versed in the area of law that relates to your case will be better equipped to determine your legal rights, including your right to compensation.

Here are seven tips for hiring a lawyer:

  1. Meet with at least two lawyers personally to determine if you are like-minded (or on the same wavelength). This will be important since you may be working closely with this lawyer for a significant period of time
  2. Ask for references from other people the lawyer has represented in similar cases
  3. Ask the lawyer to briefly discuss the cases of clients he or she represented that are similar to your case
  4. Find out if he or she is licensed in the state where your case will be heard
  5. Request an outline of your fees in advance. Although in many cases the fees will be based on an hourly rate, the attorney can provide you with his or her average rate as well as any additional charges you might incur, such as filing fees. Also, most lawyers charge one rate for time spent in court during litigation and another ratefor time spent preparing for trial. In some cases, your lawyer can give an approximation of the average time commitment required for the various phases of the case. Some cases may be taken on contingency. However, even if your lawyer has offered this option, it may be your responsibility to pay for court fees and fees for experts, court reporters and other people involved in the process. It is important to know in advance if you or the lawyer will be responsible for paying these expenses
  6. Ask the lawyer how many cases he or she has taken all the way through to trial and how many have been settled. Some attorneys are more comfortable negotiating settlements and some prefer to take cases to trial. Good attorneys are comfortable both taking cases to trial or negotiating a settlement, depending on which option is in the client's best interest
  7. Request a summary of the outcomes of the various cases the lawyer has taken all the way to trial