At one time or another, almost everyone needs to employ the services of an attorney. This may be for something like setting up a will or a trust, or helping you review a contract before you sign it, or it may be for a matter that’s more serious, like needing someone to defend you in a criminal case or in divorce proceedings.
Choosing the right San Diego lawyer is no small task—it’s also a very important one. Don’t just choose any San Diego attorney. Do your homework. Here are five things to know about your lawyer before you hire him or her.
Make Sure Your San Diego Lawyer Specializes in What You Need
It seems like everyone has a lawyer in the family, and when you start asking around for lawyer recommendations, everyone is quick to refer you to their cousin/brother-in-law/aunt who practices law. Referrals can be great, but not if someone is referring you to a lawyer who doesn’t handle the type of work you need done.
If you need a will, hire an estate attorney. If you’re getting divorced, find a reputable divorce attorney. You get the idea…
Look for a San Diego Lawyer Who Will Make You a Priority
It’s unreasonable to expect that you will be your lawyer’s only client, but a good lawyer will make you feel like you’re his or her only client. A lawyer should return calls and emails promptly and not try to rush you during meetings or phone calls. They’ll take time to listen to you, and not brush your concerns under the rug. You should be able to get a good sense of how you’ll be treated by a lawyer during your initial meeting or phone call.
Read Up on Your Lawyer
After you’ve compiled a short list of attorneys who you think might be a good fit, go to The State Bar of California’s website and type in their names. You’ll be able to see if there has ever been any official disciplinary action against the lawyers. You can even read the official documents filed in any cases against them to find out the details.
A quick Google search of the lawyer’s name may be informative as well. Although you should take anything you find on the internet that’s not from a reputable website with a grain of salt. If any patterns emerge, take note.
Know Their Fee Structure
You may have heard those ads on the radio for lawyers who say things like, “We don’t get paid unless you win your case.” That sounds great, but don’t take that statement at face value. There are likely some serious exceptions to this. It’s a great tactic to get people to pick up the phone and call their office, but you may not get the service you had hoped for.
Most lawyers charge by the hour, and an experienced lawyer should be able to tell you about how many hours they expect to spend on your case after hearing the details.
Know Who Will Be Handling Your Case
Some San Diego lawyers work independently, but most are part of a larger office with other lawyers, as well as paralegals. In your initial conversation with a lawyer, ask them specifically who will be handling your file. If it isn’t him or her personally, ask why. If it’s a paralegal ask who will be doing the bulk of the work on your case, and how that will affect the fee structure.
There are many things to consider when hiring a San Diego attorney, but these five things will cover the basics and hopefully allow you to find a lawyer that can help you. You can start your search by looking through the list of lawyers in our San Diego business directory.