Selecting an attorney for any legal work can be intimidating – there are so many! There are a lot of considerations when hiring someone – are they qualified, do I like how they communicate, are they nearby, and can I afford them? These are all valid questions you should ask yourself before hiring!
The first consideration is whether the attorney is competent in that area of law. While an attorney is licensed to practice in all areas, it is important to find one who concentrates in the area you need assistance with. The attorney will be able to provide you with quicker advice/assistance if it is something they handle regularly. If the attorney has no experience in the area, it will take them longer to find the answer/solution you need.
The second consideration is whether your personalities jive. Someone could be the best attorney in the world, but if you can’t stand how they communicate with you then you’re less likely to comprehend the advice they are giving you. While attorneys have a reputation for being slowed to change, a lot more attorney offices are providing client portals, text messaging, email, phone call, and in person meetings. There are now so many more ways to communicate! For example, if you prefer receiving lengthy information in writing versus verbal, you want an attorney who will electronically send you the advice versus calling you with it. To understand if your personalities match, pay attention to the process of hiring the attorney – are they hard to get a hold of? Did you have to wait weeks for a call back? You can tell a lot about an attorney and firm from just scheduling your consultation. If you are okay with the onboarding experience that – great, stick with them. If not, reach out to another attorney in that area of practice.
With technology, it is not always imperative to hire an attorney nearby. You can email, FaceTime, e-sign, and more to meet and exchange documents. If you are looking for a very specific type of attorney (i.e. car dealership law or a personal injury attorney concentrating in left hand scissor accidents) you may not want someone local as they do not have the expertise. If you are looking for something more general (DUI defense; divorce; business law), it might be perfectly fine to use an attorney locally, provided the other considerations are met.
The fourth consideration is pricing. Attorneys are known for their billable hours, but there are other fee structures like contingency (you only pay when the attorney gets paid) and flat fee. Everyone’s budget and tolerance for variability is different. You want to make sure you (a) understand the attorney’s billing model and (b) are comfortable with moving forward. You should have the discussion about billing at the outset so you know the exact fee structure before you hire the attorney. The attorney should also provide you with a written agreement outlining the scope of representation (what they will do) and the fee structure (how much it will cost).
ALH provides a variety of methods for communicating with clients – client portals, email, text messaging, and phone calls to ensure clients are up-to-date on their matters with the firm. We also offer a majority of our services on a flat fee basis and are working towards offering all services on a flat fee basis.