Finding a Lawyer
For numerous reasons, thousands of Americans seek the assistance of an attorney each year. Some need assistance with immigration, criminal defense, representation in family court, tax attorney, or just advice on any number of subjects.
The law specialties seem endless; tax law, environmental law, family law, property law, commercial law, as well as many others.
How can a person select the right lawyer who excels in his or her understanding of law? First, he or she should determine the type of attorney they need. For the sake of example, consider the process of selecting an attorney for two different purposes, immigration and representation in family court.
Immigrating to the United States can be one of the most important processes a person will go through in their life. Not being able to navigate the proper channels can have dire consequences, including deportation, separation from family and loss of employment.
Hiring a lawyer who is experienced with law and is an immigration attorney knows the requirements that are beneficial if your immigration situation is not straightforward or if you just aren’t confident in your understanding of the process.
Consider these suggestions when making your selection of an immigration attorney.
Check their reputation. Word of mouth referrals are the most valuable references. A client should talk to friends, family or co-workers about their immigration issues. Even if they have not been through immigration themselves, they most likely know someone who has needed help understanding law.
Look for people who may have had a complicated immigration situation. Challenges with the immigration process can really put an immigration attorney to the test regarding his or her knowledge of law and allow him or her to demonstrate their abilities.
Check the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Web site for a referral to an immigration attorney. The AILA is a national association of lawyers and immigration attorney who teach and practice immigration law. You can be confident your lawyer understands law and is an immigration attorney who knows immigration policies if he or she is associated with this organization.
The AILA Web site allows you to search by area for an affiliated attorney or immigration attorney and you can search for a specific immigration attorney if you already have a name. Membership is a good indication that the lawyer or immigration attorney is committed to the issue of immigration.
Interview your attorney. Once a client has compiled a list of attorneys, schedule a consultation. Most attorneys will do this for free. Ask about their experience with the specific type of immigration case in question and get them to provide client references.
Compare costs. Just as with any profession, attorney fees vary. Some lawyers will charge a flat fee. Others will charge you by the hour.
Check with the State Bar. Each attorney must be licensed by The State Bar. This organization will also keep records of any disciplinary action against the lawyer you are considering.
Another common reason people seek a lawyer is for representation in family court. Hiring the right family law attorney is imperative since clients are enlisting their assistance not only with the physical and tangible aspects of family court and law, but there is usually quite a bit of emotional factors at play as well.
An effective attorney who has experience in family court will take into consideration the family’s physical and emotional needs. A person should seek to choose a lawyer whose priorities align with theirs. As discussed above, take advantage of a free consultation to interview a potential attorney with family court experience.
Considering the following questions will help a client prepare for the interview. If a person has his or her goals and objectives clearly in mind, they will be equipped to determine if a particular lawyer is right for them.
Consider the objectives. Should the lawyer’s main goal be that of fighting or negotiating? Going to family court is not the only option. Some lawyers are more experienced in negotiating solutions and only seek judicial resolutions if necessary.
If cost is an issue, the client may consider a negotiator. The more time in family court, the higher the attorney fees. A good attorney will not only solve problems, but predict possible issues. They will not create more problems by being vindictive.
If children are involved, keep in mind their best interests. Hire a family court attorney who has the same objective. An effective lawyer will assess law, look at the situation and facts of the client’s family and create a custom plan of action that’s in the best interest of the entire family.
Find someone who is not afraid to tell a client the truth. Lawyers should not just tell clients what they want to hear. An effective attorney will explain why a resolution the client is seeking is not a feasible option in family court and offer comparable suggestions. Note, an attorney should never guarantee you will win.
Ultimately, regardless of what kind of attorney a person is searching for, finding a good one comes down to research. Do the homework and ask questions. During the consultation, ask how many cases the lawyer has fought and won. If it’s a family law attorney, ask about his or her experience with child custody, child support, property division or prenuptial agreements to get a sense of how diverse their experience is and how familiar they are with law.
Find out who will be working the case. Ask the consulting attorney will be personally handling the case. If an associate will be working the case for the lead attorney, a client would want to find out how long he or she has been practicing law and other pertinent information about that person as well.
Keep in mind hiring a lawyer is an investment. Just as with any financial investment, gather as much information as possible before making a decision. Law, especially related to family court or immigration, can be complicated. Once a client defines his or her goals and objectives, they can begin to find an attorney that reflects those objectives.