When choosing a (new) lawyer, one can approach it with two mindsets: ad-hoc or purposeful. Similar to a person who is sick and is in the process of choosing a GP, you can opt to go to whoever is closest to you at the time (which may vary from time to time) or you can commit to one family doctor who knows your medical history.
Obviously the latter will result in holistic medical care that is tailor delivered to your specific needs. Similarly, clients partnering with a law firm in the long term will yield greater commercial benefits.
Choosing a lawyer is more like going into partnership with a new business partner. Make sure you pick someone who is the right fit for you (and your business). Meet them and get a feel for their style. culture, expertise and pricing structure. This will help you make the right decision with who you want to move forward with
So where do you start? We suggest that you consider the following :
Contactability – Lawyers and many white-collared professionals are (unfortunately) notorious for not returning phone calls. Ultimately, this is an issue with trusting that your lawyer will be there for you when you have a query and whether you are able to rely upon them in your moment of need. After meeting your lawyer, determine if a rapport was established and whether you are comfortable with them not only to solve your legal issues but also if you can see a long-term business partnership with them.
Cost – High legal fees are one of the biggest hindrances for most people in seeking legal help. With most legal matters today (with the exception of litigation and a few other areas) there is no reason why your lawyer cannot be transparent and give you a fixed-fee estimate or a staged estimate of how much it will cost to resolve your issue. This goes to the issue of the lawyer’s integrity. If they can be upfront with you about their fees, it’s a great sign that they’ll be consistent in their dealings with you in the future.
Communication – Like any relationship, clear communication is essential. If you are unable to understand your lawyer, or if you feel unconformable in fully disclosing the facts of your case, chances are both will be disappointed. Find someone who speaks your language and whom you feel free to open up to about all your legal issues.
Convenience – Is your lawyer only available when you are not? Is parking in the city an issue? Many lawyers now offer mobile services to meet off-site at a location convenient to the client (coffee shop near your workplace), or they have various satellite offices around town. Even with the ease of modern technology, documents will inevitably need to be signed and dropped off from time to time.
With these four things in mind, you’re on your way to finding a great lifelong legal partnership.