Choose the Best Lawyer for Your Case With These Tips
View more related buyers guides
Published by TOP4 Team
What are the Services Offered by Lawyers?
Lawyers will dispense legal information and coach you to solve your legal problems. General practice lawyers can handle a wide variety of legal issues but you may prefer a specialist who is competent in a specific area such as litigation, divorces, criminal law, taxation, labour relations, business transactions, real property and so on.
The lawyer’s role includes:
- Analysis of the facts of the client’s case and the possible outcomes
- Developing various claims or defences
- Communication with the client to report all progress and pertinent information
- Negotiating with the other involved parties
- Drafting documents
- In-person representation at court hearings and other legal proceedings
How to Choose the Suitable Lawyer for Your Case:
In some cases, legal representation is critical and can deeply affect the rest of your life as well as your finances. If you need advice on the possible consequences and legalities about your case and that the outcome justifies the expense, then follow these steps to find the perfect lawyer for your case.
1. Define your problem.
Obviously, the nature of your legal problem will determine which lawyer you need, as most of them are specialised in an area. It can pay to work with a specialist because he will already know the field, even if he may charge a little more.
2. Ask for references but consider them carefully.
Ask your friends, neighbours and relatives to recommend a lawyer if they have experienced the same problem you're facing. But pay attention because the case they handled may have involved a different aspect of the law than yours. Furthermore, people can have different responses to a lawyer’s style and personality.
Don’t ask a lawyer for recommendations, except if you really trust him, because a lawyer in one field may know nothing about the qualifications of a lawyer in another. Furthermore, many lawyers receive referral fees for their recommendations.
3. Check the background of potential lawyers.
Make sure that your lawyer is familiar with cases such as yours. He must have trial experience in the specific field of law in which you need help. Ask about the outcome of the other cases he had to handle. Examine also the education of your lawyer to make sure he's a graduate of an accredited law school. He must have completed a tertiary level law degree, one year Articled Clerkship and a post graduate diploma in legal practice.
You should also check if the lawyer has had any disciplinary actions filed against him or complaints pending.
4. Meet the potential lawyers for a first consultation.
A discussion about your case will give you a quick sense of how comfortable you feel working with him and how accessible he will be in the future. Most lawyers agree to a one-time free consultation, but they can charge you. It depends on the practice area and the amount of time spent with you. Even if they charge you, it’s worth it but ask about it before you schedule a time to avoid nasty surprises. Don’t hesitate to consult with more than one lawyer.
Prepare the consultation carefully by writing down your situation in a brief summary, as well as your questions. Gather all facts and documented information. Prepare a statement of goals and objectives, which will enable lawyers to explain to you whether the objective is obtainable. Be sure to tell the complete truth about your situation so that they can best advise you. The consultation should cover the following questions:
- What is their frank assessment of your chances of success?
- What are the alternatives in resolving the matter?
- What steps are involved in solving the problem?
- What is the overall time likely to be involved?
- Do they recommend mediation or arbitration?
- What's the outcome of specific cases they have worked on before which are similar to yours?
- Can they give you an idea of the legal fees and costs associated with the legal matter?
5. Evaluate their personality and professionalism.
You have to make sure that you connect on a personal level with your lawyer, because once you sign up, it’s very difficult to end that relationship. Trust your intuition.
- Do they have good character, integrity, values and principles?
- Can you trust them? It’s important because you'll be divulging personal aspects of your life.
- Do they look and act professionally? Is their office neat and well organised?
- Are they open to questions and clear in their answers? Or are they condescending and aggressive?
- Are they easily accessible by emails and telephone? If every time you have a problem there’s a delay of several days before you can receive advice from your lawyer on the phone or face-to-face, you'll lose some precious time.
- Are they confident and do they command respect? Your lawyer must be persuasive when he/she will represent your interest in a court.
- Will they go with you to court or send an associate? The best lawyers want to personally handle a case all the way through.
6. Compare rates.
Make sure to get a written fee agreement detailing how you'll be charged. Before signing, feel free to get an explanation of the reason for the fees. See more information about pricing below.
The rates they'll charge depend on the type of expertise you need, the time and labour required, the novelty and difficulty of questions raised, amount of damages sought and the results achieved, time limitations imposed by the client or circumstances, the experience and reputation of the lawyer, etc. There are usually different ways to be billed. Some lawyers use a combination of them.
- Hourly rates: Based on time spent. The hourly rate can vary from $15 to more than $100. Don’t hesitate to ask for an estimate of how many hours will be spent on your case.
- Flat rates: For specific services (preparing a will…)
- Contingent fee, i.e. a percentage of the amount of compensation that is recovered on your behalf. It's used especially in accident and negligence cases. You can be charged separately for expenses. If no award is made, compensation may not be required.
- Retainer, i.e. an advance payment for a portion of the fee. In return for the retainer, the lawyer will work for you on any matter. Additional costs may be added for services involving extra time and effort. Always ask for a receipt for the advance on the fee.
How to Cut Costs:
Here are some suggestions to cut your costs.
- Ask the state and territory legal aid commissions about legal aid at the start of your case if you're unable to afford legal representation.
- Negotiate a writing agreement about costs to make sure you know since the beginning how much it will cost you and when you'll be required to pay.
- If you're charged with an hourly rate, ask your lawyer if there's anything you can do to cut down the time he has to spend on your case.
Be wise in choosing a lawyer. Consider working with the most trusted lawyers in Australia today.