Most people will require professional legal services from a lawyer at some point in their lives. This may be for buying or selling a house, writing a will or making a business contract. Any town or city with a few thousand residents or more will usually have numerous law firms to choose between, so how you decide who to trust in what may be an expensive process?
Firstly, a law firm should at least have the standard qualifications for practice in your country and be registered with the relevant regulatory body. For example, in the UK, this is the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Find a specialist lawyer – if your needs are in an unusual or highly specialist field of law, you may require the services of a law firm that specializes in this area. The more niche the legal skills required, the further afield you may need to search for an expert lawyer. For example, if you run an IT company and require assistance with commercial litigation, any small town commercial litigation lawyer may be happy to help you with the case. However, if you widen your search to the nearest large city, you may be able to find one or more commercial lawyers that actually specialize in commercial law for IT. Such specialist skills may demand a higher fee, but the higher level of knowledge within your field could result in a more favourable outcome.
Get a quote – lengthy legal processes with uncertain outcomes may be difficult to quote for, but you will still be able to find out the hourly rate and if different firms have similar credentials, you may want to let price be the deciding factor. For some legal services, such as transfer of properties, you may be able to obtain a fixed quote.
Location – if you are likely to need to visit your lawyer on multiple occasions, you may want to choose one that is fairly close to your home or business in order to save time and expense on travel.
Ask questions – during an initial consultation (many law firms offer 1/2 free of charge), ask plenty of questions to get an idea of how expert the lawyer is in dealing with your kind of case. Does the law firm have someone available to answer all your questions and does the lawyer seem confident and knowledgeable?
Get recommendations – have any of your friends or family required this kind of legal help before? Discuss your needs with those around you unless they are highly personal. Even if a friend or family member has not needed this kind of support before, they may know someone who has. An unbiased recommendation can be much more powerful than what a lawyer says about his or herself.
Legal services are often required during stressful times, such as bereavement, moving home or legal disputes, so it is important to choose a lawyer that you are comfortable with to minimize potential for further stress. Following the tips above when choosing between law firms should help.