If you are in need of legal representations you may find that you have a number of questions. Indeed, like many people, you may be unsure of what you need to do in advance of retaining a lawyer. At the outset, there are five characteristics of a law firm to consider before you make a decision to engage its services. These five characteristics are:
- Experience of firm
- Background of attorneys
- Track Record of Firm
- Support staff
- Fees and expenses
Before you launch into exploring these particular characteristics, you will want to pull together a list of potential law firms to consider in the first instance. Even in this high-tech area, word of mouth remains an important resource when seeking legal representations. The possibility exists that you have family, friends, or colleagues that have needed the type of legal representation that you currently seek. Obtaining recommendations from them can be helpful when you are beginning the search for legal assistance.
Experience of Firm:
A vital characteristic you need to contemplate before engaging the services of a law firm is an experience. Experience means much more than the number of years a particular law firm has been in business.
The reality of the legal practice of the 21st century is that law firms of all sizes tend to focus their areas of practice. Long gone are the days when a person graduated from law school, hung out a shingle, a took on a wide range of different types of cases.
Another reality is that even within specific areas of the law attorneys are becoming focuses in specific niches. For example, attorneys practice in the criminal law arena may focus on specific areas like:
- Drug crimes
- White collar crimes
- Federal crimes
- States crimes
- Criminal appeals
The same holds true for attorneys that practice in the arena of family law or business law.
Bearing these realities in mind, you need to ascertain not only whether or not a particular law firm practices in the general area of the law in which you need legal assistance but also whether a firm has specific experience in working on your type of case.
Background of Attorneys:
In addition to examining the history and experience of a law firm generally, another of the characteristics you need to explore is the background of a firm’s lawyers. Some firms are large and it is impossible and unnecessary to get background information on all attorneys. You do want to obtained detailed information the backgrounds of those attorneys that will be assigned to your matter.
Exploring the background of an attorney necessitates an examination of these elements:
- Law school education
- Undergraduate education
- Special certifications
- Specific areas of practice
- Length of time at the firm
- Previous legal employment
- Relevant employment outside the legal profession
You will also want to consider checking with the state attorney licensing authority to ascertain whether or not a particular lawyer has been sanctioned for any reason. In most states, this information is readily accessible via a website maintained by the attorney licensing authority.
Track Record of Firm:
In addition to exploring the background of a firm and the experience of its legal team, you will also want to glean information about the overall track record of the firm. In other words, you will want to obtain some information about its track record in regard to specific cases it has been involved with in more recent times.
Past performance is not a guarantee of future success. Nonetheless, having at least some information about the track record of a particular firm can be illuminating.
As part of gleaning data about a firm’s track record, you might also want to obtain references from that firm. A law firm and its legal team should be happy to provide you with references. References can include not only previous clients but professional colleagues of the firm and its legal team as well. Both former clients and professional colleagues can be solid resources about a firm’s track record.
The consideration of the characteristics of a law firm needs to include an exploration of its support staff. There is something of a balancing act to bear in mind when it comes to a law firm’s support staff.
On the one hand, you definitely want a law firm that maintains a suitable support staff. For example, you do not want to engage a firm at which an attorney must spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with mundane administrative duties that more appropriately should be undertaken by another staff member. An attorney that is sidetracked in this manner has less time to pursue valuable work related to your case.
On the other hand, you do not want to retain the services of a law firm populated with attorneys that is overly reliant on support staff. You do not want to engage a firm at which all contact with you will be through some member of the support team.
Fees and Expenses:
Fees and expenses associated with legal representation are matters that you must make certain are thoroughly understood and absolutely pinned down in advance of engaging the professional services of a law firm. The standard utilized by nearly any reputable law firm is to put the entirety of a fee agreement in writing before representation commences. By taking this course, there is less room for confusion over the terms and conditions surrounding payment for services.
If you are in need of legal assistance, Foyle Legal stands ready to assist. You can schedule an initial consultation at your convenience to obtain an evaluation of your case. During a preliminary appointment, you are also able to obtain answers to any questions that you might have about your situation. There is no fee charged for an initial consultation with a prospective client.