In honor of Valentine’s Day, TheNigerialawyer thought it would be a great idea to provide tips in finding “The One” when choosing an attorney. Considering that you are entering into what could be a long-term and financially impactful relationship, choosing the right one is more important than ever. A handful of key qualities are discussed below.
Good communication is the bedrock of any relationship. This is true for attorneys and clients as well. A quality attorney will respond to a client’s questions in a timely manner depending on the seriousness of the issue. Clients should expect regular communication from their attorney – such as phone calls, emails, case strategy, and financial decisions – so that the client understands how their legal matter is proceeding.
Just like any other relationship, the strong attorney-client relationship depends on how well the personalities fit together. Everyone – lawyer or not – has their own quirky foibles and idiosyncrasies. But the client should be comfortable with the attorney, and the attorney should be able to convey that he or she is capable of handling the client’s legal matter. Conflicting personalities are likely to cause headaches and disputes as the case progresses.
Looks aren’t everything. But a lot of information can be gleaned from a person by observing their appearance. Is the attorney appropriately dressed for a Saturday afternoon meeting (when a suit might not be necessary) and a Monday morning courtroom appearance (when a suit is mandatory)? Is the attorney disheveled looking or smell of alcohol on a Tuesday during business hours? Can the attorney quickly locate a client’s file in the mess that he calls his office? A mustard stain on a suit jacket is likely not a cause for concern, but the attorney’s overall appearance should be professional.
Experience, paradoxically, is both an underrated and overrated aspect of a relationship. High school sweethearts – with little relationship experience – get married right after graduation and live happily ever after while some individuals cannot make their third marriage work. For attorneys, the level of experience should coincide with the difficulty of the client’s case. An excellent twenty-year attorney in a large law firm may not be the best person to handle a simple landlord/tenant dispute. And a great second year attorney can do a wonderful job on a case in which he has relatively little or no previous experience. It is important for the client to understand the nature of their legal issue, and a quality attorney will be able to explain the situation so that the client can make an informed decision. Then the client should decide what level of experience is needed.
Financial disagreements are one of the leading causes of divorce. We all know that legal services can be expensive. As touched on the experience section, complex matters may require a very expensive attorney. Sometimes, a client only needs a little advice that could be acquired at a free legal clinic. In addition, a quality attorney will explain the costs and fees to the client, and update the client regularly with invoices that detail the work completed. Also, a quality attorney will actively search for ways to save the client money instead of finding ways to increase the bill.
Finally, the best advice for finding a quality attorney is similar to that of finding a romantic partner: Meet them, and ask questions. Ask friends for a referral. Trust your gut.
Hopefully these tips will help you find “The One” for Valentine’s Day