Basic Outline to hire a lawyer and evaluate the attorney

Attorney and Client

By: Patrick G. King of MillerKing LLC

First, I recommend that each potential client search various law firm websites. This simple process allows for the potential client to search for local attorneys (emphasis on local). A well-created and published website gives the potential client basic contact information, legal practice areas, geographic areas, and biographies. If the website is unprofessional or distasteful, such factor may be an indicator – although may not paint an entirely accurate picture – of the law firm’s professionalism, reputation, legal practice areas, and delivery of services. While online, it is encouraged to search for client reviews and peer reviews – which offer some perspective.

Second, I must emphasize the importance of a personalized confidential meeting between the potential client and potential lawyer. Some initial consultations may be handled by phone, but more involved or complex matters, including but not limited to family law, personal injury and estate planning/probate, are best discussed and evaluated in a confidential personalized setting. Visiting a lawyer’s office is another revealing factor by which to evaluate the lawyer, staff, and law firm environment. Are the staff professional, friendly, and knowledgeable? Are you greeted with enthusiasm? Do you feel comfortable? Do you believe that your case will be handled competently?

Third, the potential client and potential lawyer must develop open lines of communication, respect, trust and confidence, and demonstrate an ability to listen (listening is vital for both sides). When these factors are lacking from the beginning, it is advisable to not retain the lawyer or the lawyer to decline the case. If these factors become lacking after the client retained the lawyer, it is best to speak with the lawyer immediately without hesitation and vice versa. An open and honest meeting in a personalized confidential setting may alleviate or cure such fears, stressors, or misunderstandings. If the relationship cannot be repaired, the client or lawyer or both may wish to consider ending the attorney-client relationship.

Fourth, the potential client and potential lawyer must agree on timelines, attorneys’ fees, case costs, and reasonable expectations from the beginning. The client and lawyer must understand each role and obligation within the attorney-client relationship. The lawyer must inform and advise the client throughout the relationship. If situations or circumstances change, the client and lawyer must be willing to re-evaluate, adjust, and continue while remaining on the same page. No lawyer should ever guarantee a particular result other than best efforts, open lines of communication, and honesty with the client. If these factors are present, then the attorney-client relationship should be successful.

If the client does not feel that his or her best interests are being represented, the client should request a personalized meeting. If the client is not satisfied, then the client should consider other options, including finding new legal counsel. Each conversation or meeting is an opportunity for the client to evaluate the work or services being performed. It also gives an opportunity to discuss a status update, ask questions, and outline a future course of action. If you are wondering about your case, contact your lawyer without delay or procrastination to request a personalized meeting or consultation. Face-to-face conversations often remedy or solve many problems.

By reading this article or blog alone, it does not establish or create an attorney-client relationship.

About the Author:

Patrick G. King of MillerKing LLC, a trial lawyer, practices in the areas of Personal Injury (Automobile/Car Accidents, Bike/Motorcycle Accidents, Construction Site Accidents, Dog Bites, Dram Shop, Injuries to Children, Motorcycle Accidents, Negligence, Premises Liability, Products Liability, Trucking Accidents/Semi-Tractor Trailer Accidents, Torts, and Wrongful Death), Criminal Defense (Felony, Misdemeanor, DUI, and Traffic), and Driver’s License Reinstatement cases before Illinois Secretary of State at Formal Administrative Hearings. Patrick is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Missouri and actively represents clients in the following counties, Madison County, IL, Jersey County, IL, St. Clair County, IL, Macoupin County, IL, Montgomery County, IL, Greene County, IL, and Calhoun County, IL. Patrick also represents clients throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan Area and Missouri.

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