At some point in their lives, almost everyone needs the help of a lawyer. Getting caught up in a legal dispute is only too easy – whether it’s about a traffic accident, tax violations, or the minutiae of a divorce.
Thanks to various online directories and business listings, just finding a lawyer is easy today. But what should you look for in a good lawyer? How do you spot a truly great, reliable legal professional?
Here are the five crucial qualities to look for when you’re hiring a lawyer.
1 – Experience
To start with, verify the experience your potential lawyer has in the field of law you need help with.
Law is a detail-focused discipline. A single precedent from years ago could make or break your case.
Hence, your lawyer needs to be versed in the finer points of their field. This is why good lawyers specialize in a particular branch of law – whether that’s product liability or property disputes.
This focus allows them to accumulate a vast body of knowledge in a very specific area. And you can benefit from that knowledge.
A specialized lawyer can tell you fairly quickly what your outlook is, saving you the effort of research. If it comes to that, they’ll also argue more effectively on your behalf in court.
They’ll also be better able to coach you on what to say – or not to say – if you’re asked to make a statement.
When you’re vetting lawyers, check out their websites or ask them straight-out what their area of expertise is. And ensure that it matches your needs.
2 – Communication Skills
Next, communication skills are an essential quality to look for in any lawyer – no matter their field.
They need to be well-spoken and precise, listen attentively to their clients, and write clearly yet concisely.
If you’re expecting your case to go to court, your lawyer also needs to have solid public speaking skills in order to argue on your behalf.
How can you verify any of this?
The easiest way is to reach out via email or phone and get a first impression of their communication skills.
By booking an initial appointment, you can directly assess the quality of their writing and their skills in listening and responding to clients. In addition, you’ll see whether you can establish a personal rapport with them.
3 – Research and Analytical Skills
No matter how well-versed a lawyer is in their field, most cases still require a fair amount of research. Even very experienced lawyers need to hit the books to establish a legal strategy and look up the details of precedents.
Make sure that a lawyer you hire is able to research effectively. Ask them how long it will take for them to get back to you with their research, how they structure it, and what resources they use.
Similarly, analytical skills are essential in a good lawyer. These skills allow them to distill the results of their research down into a manageable package.
They need to be able to extract the most important nuggets of information from vast amounts of source material. This red thread can be difficult to find, which is why analytical skills are crucial.
4 – Availability
Another important factor when you’re choosing a lawyer is their availability. You need to make sure that whoever you end up hiring has sufficient time to deal with your case judiciously.
You may have found a star lawyer or someone who came highly recommended by a friend or colleague. Yet, there is little point in hiring them if they can’t give you the full attention your case deserves.
Look for someone who is prepared to invest time and effort on your behalf. This ranges from creating well-structured briefs to making sure you’re kept in the loop. They need to ensure you understand where your case is at.
Asking potential lawyers about their schedule and how much time they can allocate to your case is usually enough to verify this point.
5 – Positive References
Finally, one essential element to check when you’re looking for a lawyer is positive references from former clients. This is also a way of checking if they lack any of the other qualities outlined above.
When you’re looking for lawyers, thoroughly go through business listings and see what clients have had to say about their experience with each of your candidates. This way, you can pinpoint deficiencies straight away – and steer well clear of them.
When you’re embroiled in a legal dispute, having a legal professional you trust by your side is invaluable.
Take the time to reach out, have initial appointments, and thoroughly check reviews.
By verifying that your lawyer is experienced, good at communication, available, and skilled in both research and analytical skills, you’ll be able to pick the best lawyer to help you win your case.