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5 Steps in Evaluating Attorneys

1. Compile a small list of attorneys that you find. It’s okay to start with an entire page of attorneys, but narrow down the list by asking friends, family, and business connections their opinions. Figure out if there are any attorneys you should consider or avoid.

2. Do a background check on the attorneys on your list. Use resources like Martindale-Hubbell, Avvo, Lawyers.com, the American Bar Association, and many other sources on the internet, including news articles. Here are some questions to consider as you do your search:

a. Has the attorney been cited for any ethics violations?
b. How long has the attorney been in practice? Where is the attorney licensed to practice?
c. Does this attorney’s practice focus on a particular area of law?
Important: Don’t put too much emphasis on any “ratings” or “accolades” given out by these sites.

3. Set up an initial consultation with the attorneys on your list. There is no substitute for meeting someone in person (chemistry, first impression, etc.). Many attorneys will provide an initial consultation for free, but some firms will charge for an initial consultation. If possible, try to visit the law firm to get an idea of the atmosphere of the firm. Keep in mind some questions to ask:

a. What actions do they plan on taking to resolve the case?
b. Are there any possible alternatives to the course of action?
c. Who in the firm will be handling the case? Who will be the point of contact?
d. What are the estimated costs to resolve the case, and when do they expect it to be resolved? Will you be comfortable with the fee structure of the firm?
e. What are the possible outcomes for the case?

4. Narrow your choices. After your consultation, you should try to pick two or three attorneys that really shined. Take the time to do a more intensive search on your top choices.

a. What areas of expertise does the attorney have? (e.g. finance, tax, medicine, etc.)
b. What kinds of clients does the attorney represent? Have they handled cases successfully in the area you are seeking their assistance in?

5. Commit to one attorney. Remember, he or she will be the one to represent you in whatever legal matter you are dealing with. Be sure that you have done your research and you know that you can fully rely on and trust in this attorney. (Fiduciary duty?)

Important: Do not second guess yourself.

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