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What To Expect: How To Select An Attorney To Represent You

September 11, 2015

Experiencing a family, business or other type of dispute can be an emotionally stressful time for anyone. Proper education about the process can help individuals be in control of the various stages associated with disputes that develop into a case filed in one of our courts.

Taking legal advice from legal experts and not friends and family members starts one of the first important steps. Each case is different and just because a best friend, co-worker, or family member shares with you their experience doesn't mean your particular facts lead to a same or similar outcome. Care should also be taken in reading information on the internet as the source of the information may not be substantiated.

Many people are hesitant to meet with an attorney; however, meeting with an attorney to gain an understanding of the State and Local laws and procedures presents a crucial foundation of resolution either by settlement or resolution by a judgment for your case. Each State for state court cases creates and maintains its own laws. Each county and each court may have policies and procedures that are specific to that county and/or court. A consultation with an attorney in the legal area of your dispute provides a road map for litigation expectations.

After meeting with an attorney, decisions regarding retaining that attorney should focus on your ability to communicate with the attorney and being comfortable with the manner in which the attorney's law firm manages your case. You should be able to understand the attorney, the attorney should be able to understand you and you should feel comfortable sharing all facts about your case with the attorney. Your meeting with an attorney is confidential. The attorney cannot share with others outside the law office what you share (with exceptions related to certain criminal matters). Only an attorney can provide legal advice to you. Staff within a law office do not possess the proper credentials as those with a law license to provide legal advice.

After meeting with an attorney you should possess an understanding of the basic following elements that vary from attorney to attorney and law office to law office:

  1. who within the attorney's firm you would communicate most: the attorney or the attorney staff;

  2. how promptly does the attorney respond to telephone calls and emails;

  3. the attorney's practice areas and expertise, including the courts in which the attorney normally works;

  4. the amount and nature of hourly fees charged by the attorney and the attorney's staff;

  5. the retainer fee charged by the attorney and how the law firm manages retainers and invoices to you;

  6. the decisions the attorney will make with you, the decisions the attorney will make without you, and how frequently the attorney will provide updates to you about the occurrences in your case;

  7. the documents and information the attorney needs from you to begin representing you to either prepare your petition or your answer; and

  8. when the attorney can begin work on your case.

A legal dispute directly affects your life and being knowledgeable about the process is a crucial step to controlling how a legal dispute affects you. You may desire to meet with more than one attorney or be able to make a decision on an attorney to hire after meeting with just one attorney. The important first step to being in control is making the appointment to begin the process.

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