How do I find the right lawyer?

by Jacqui Brauman

How do I find the right lawyer?

by Jacqui Brauman

by Jacqui Brauman

It’s best to find the right lawyer straight away, instead of finding out a couple of months later and having to switch lawyers (this can get very expensive and stressful).

First, figure out what kind of issue you have

If you can describe your legal issue in the same way that a lawyer does, then you are more likely to be able to find a lawyer that does what you need. 

The way lawyers name and categorise legal issues might not be the same way you would. For example, ‘industrial relations’ and ‘employment law’ are often the same category. Whereas ‘family law’ describes sorting out the children and property after a marriage separation, while ‘child custody’ is a child protection matter.

Once you know the kind of legal issue you have, you’re more likely to find a lawyer that can help you.

Second, search for a lawyer by the kind of issue you have

Lawyers don’t know everything, and can’t do everything! So, you need to find the right lawyer that actually knows how to do what you need.

The law has a LOT of different areas, and lawyers usually work in three to five areas. Don’t assume that just because your friend used a good lawyer for a property purchase, that you can use the same lawyer for a workplace injury matter. 

Once you know the kind of legal issue you have, there are many online databases of lawyers that you can search. Search the database by the kind of legal issue you have – like ‘family law’ or ‘employment law’ – and by where you live, and you should end up with a list of lawyers nearest to you that will be able to do what you need.

Third, research your shortlist

From the list that you get after searching your preferred database, make a shortlist of 3-5 individual lawyers (or law firms) that you’re going to investigate further.

Then search these places to see whether what they have to say appeals to you:

  • their website
  • their Facebook page
  • their LinkedIn profile
  • any Google reviews they’ve had, and
  • just Google search they firm and see what pops up.

By doing this, you might be able to eliminate a couple fairly easily, particularly if there’s either not much about them online, or any other factor that turns you off.

Fourth, investigate how they charge

Once you had 2 or 3 lawyers or firms that you prefer, now you should check to see how they charge to work out which is the right lawyer for you.

  • Do they say on their website that they offer fixed fee work? Or pro bono work?
  • Do they actually list their prices (this is very rare, and usually the sign of a very accountable firm)?
  • Do they offer a free initial appointment, or a fixed-fee initial appointment?
  • Do they allow you to have a payment plan, or pay at the end?

Finally, reach out to them

If you can’t find out much about how they charge, then now is the time to email the solicitor and ask them.

If you are fairly sure how they will charge, then think of something else to ask. Maybe you could just ask when they are available for a chat. (Don’t expect them to agree, and anticipate that they will suggest a first appointment instead).

What you are also testing here is how responsive they are. This is why I suggest an email, because calling on the phone is more difficult to gage (if someone is not busy, then it might mean they’re not great). 

You want someone who will respond within a couple of hours, ideally. 

Remember

Even after all this research, and you have an initial appointment, you don’t have to work with the first lawyer that you meet with. 

Trust your gut, and if it doesn’t feel or sound right, then just move on.

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