The line between legal information and legal advice can often be blurred. As a general rule, only attorneys can provide actual legal advice.
It is important to find a lawyer that you can work with long-term. The quality of their character should also factor into your decision. In addition, their professional skills are important.
1. Don’t Go for Free Consultations
A lot of people don’t realize it, but legal proceedings aren’t cheap. You have expenses such as rent, food and daily living costs to cover while you go through a legal case. As such, it’s important to be aware of the cost of a consultation before you book one.
A free consultation is an opportunity for a lawyer to meet with you and discuss your legal issues. They can give you insight into your case’s merit and how successful it will be. This is a great way to decide whether you should continue with a lawsuit or settle out of court.
However, not all attorneys offer free consultations. Some are too busy with their existing clientele and other cases to meet with prospects for free. Others don’t see the value in offering free consultations as it may deter potential clients.
Attorneys must follow a strict set of guidelines known as attorney-client privilege. This means that if they get to know any details about your case in a free consultation, they cannot share these details with anyone else or take any action that might jeopardize your legal case. This protects the interests of the client and allows them to make an informed decision about hiring an attorney.
If you are unsure of the quality of an attorney, it is best to check their reputation. You can do this by researching their law firm’s website and reading reviews on it. Also, ask friends and family about their experiences with attorneys.
Some law firms charge a small fee for a consultation, but this can be a good way to attract new customers. It will also allow you to see how knowledgeable the attorney is. This is especially important if you are seeking advice about a complex legal issue, such as immigration or bankruptcy.
Another great option for finding an attorney is to use online services such as UpCounsel. You can post a job detailing your legal matter and receive proposals from attorneys who specialize in it. This service is used by top brands such as Airbnb.
2. Pay for a Consultation
Whether you’re seeking advice for a case or just wanting to learn more about legal issues, the best attorneys will not shy away from offering you their professional legal advice. This is why many law firms charge for consultations. This is not because they’re trying to take advantage of you but rather that they value the time and expertise that goes into this meeting with their clients.
Most attorneys don’t offer free consultations because they are running a business and need to earn a living. They can’t afford to spend hours with prospective clients who may or may not retain them. If they did that, it would soon take up all of their available billable time.
Additionally, if you’re asking an attorney to meet with you for free or at a lower rate than they would charge for a regular client case then that is a red flag that they may not be taking your case seriously. They’re giving you free or discounted advice to gain your business but if they aren’t taking their own case seriously then it’s not in your best interest to work with them.
The best attorney will know the most about your situation and can provide you with valuable, tailored information during the initial consultation. A good lawyer will not be afraid to tell you that they don’t think your case is worth pursuing or that your case could be better handled by another firm. They’ll be honest about what they believe is in your best interests and they will not try to win your business simply because they’re offering a free consultation.
For instance, some lawyers will offer a free 20 minute phone call for a “free case review.” This allows the attorney to see if they can help you, and if not, they’ll still give you the option of an in-person consult at either a lowered or regular hourly rate. This is a much more efficient way for an attorney to see what they can do for you and how they would approach your case without spending their time on people who don’t really need their services.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Like it or not, everyone will at some point face a legal situation that requires the guidance and representation of an attorney. Whether it be the dissolution of a marriage, a car accident or the sudden need for custody of an aging parent, it is important to have these professionals in your corner when you need them. However, before you take the leap and choose an attorney, it is crucial to ask questions.
One of the biggest problems people have when choosing an attorney is not knowing where to start. Many people begin their search by reading a random advertisement or looking for a lawyer online, but this is often not enough information to make a valid judgment about an attorney’s ability and expertise. A better strategy is to seek out personal recommendations from trusted sources. This could include family and friends, business associates and even local organizations such as churches or women’s groups. Those who have dealt with the same legal problem that you are experiencing will be in a good position to provide valuable advice and insight.
While it is common to be hesitant to ask sensitive questions, you should not hesitate to ask any question that you have. Einav Hart, assistant management professor at George Mason University and Eric VanEpps, assistant marketing professor at the University of Utah, recently talked to Knowledge@Wharton about their recent paper, “The (Better Than Expected) Consequences of Asking Sensitive Questions.” Hart explained that we tend to avoid touchy subjects because they are uncomfortable, inappropriate or contain information that we would rather keep private. This can be seen in everyday conversation as well when we avoid asking questions that might offend or embarrass someone else.
Despite this, Hart said that asking sensitive questions is beneficial and can help us to build stronger relationships. He cites two reasons for this, including that asking questions can help to build trust and that it shows we care about the other person.
Another advantage of asking questions is that it will allow you to determine whether the attorney is a good fit for your case. For example, you may need a family law attorney but your friend might need a bankruptcy specialist. In these cases, it is important to find an attorney with experience in the area that is right for your case.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Confused
It’s understandable that clients may feel confused when they receive legal advice from their attorney. The attorney’s mind works differently than the average person’s, and he or she must take many things into consideration when making a decision about your case. Many attorneys don’t have enough time to provide in-depth, specific legal advice to every client who requests a free consultation. They simply do their best to offer an evaluation of your case that will help determine whether or not you have a case. Some attorneys have firm biographies that explain their areas of expertise, so make sure to read them.