If you need legal help, knowing the tricks to choosing an attorney can make all the difference in the world. That said, knowing how to find a good lawyer is easier said than done. One of the biggest problems? Americans are spoiled for choice. According to statistics published by The Boston Globe, there are nearly 1.25 million lawyers in the United States. Whether you’re looking for a local bankruptcy attorney or your case requires a personal injury lawyer, here are four characteristics of bad lawyers to help you find only the best man or woman for your legal needs.
Four Telltale Signs Your Attorney is a Schmuck
- Every Little Thing is a Reason to Bill You
- They’re Too Hard to Contact
- Crystal Clear Costs
- They Start by Making Promises
As Huffington Post suggests, one of the surest signs you’ve gotten into bed with the wrong lawyer is usurious billing. As you’ll see, we recommend you work with a lawyer who is crystal clear on what you’ll be charged, but you also need to start by avoiding attorneys who charge for the wrong things. Do they charge you for a missed phone call? Will you be expected to pay an exorbitant amount for five minutes of their time? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you should look for someone else.
When it comes down to it, your lawyer is your employee. As such, there should be an open line of communication at all times. For About.com’s Careers, if you’re wondering how to find a good lawyer, you need to start by looking for great communication. Missed phone calls that are never returned, emails that get no response for two weeks — these are definite signs you’ve found a stinker.
One of the most important questions to ask a lawyer from the start is how much they charge. The average local bankruptcy lawyer, for example, will charge $1,500 to $3,000 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, but that’s only if it doesn’t require time in the courtroom. Know what fees you’ll be expected to pay, both before and after litigation, to ensure you don’t wind up with a whopper of a bill. The best lawyers will be completely upfront.
The fact of the matter is that no matter how good your lawyer is or how excellent their win-to-loss ratio might be, they can never guarantee you the outcome you want. That’s why you need to be wary of any lawyer that promises you victory. Lawyers who employ this tactic are just saying whatever they can to add you to their list of paying clients.
Have you worked with your fair share of crappy lawyers? What advice would you give others wondering how to find a good lawyer? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.