It can be daunting and challenging to know where to start if you unexpectedly find yourself in need of legal representation. Finding counsel shouldn’t be stressful, even though legal issues often are. I have five recommendations for people wishing to hire a lawyer for the first time as a partner at a law firm:
1. Reach out to family and friends.
2. Ask lawyers for referrals.
The legal profession may be very exclusive. Lawyers frequently attend events together, cross paths in court, and maintain a network of law school classmates with whom they interact. Because of this, while looking for legal counsel outside of their area of expertise, it can be beneficial to ask a reliable lawyer for suggestions.
If you do not already have a lawyer on speed dial, you can broaden your search by asking a family member or acquaintance for a referral. You can contact their attorney for advice even if they don’t specialize in the area of law you need. Ask whether they can look at your case or can name an attorney who can, then introduce yourself, explain how you found them and who referred you.
3. Use LinkedIn search features.
A wonderful location to look for an attorney is on LinkedIn. To narrow down the results, apply keywords (such “criminal defense”). Also, be sure to include your location: The lawyer must, at the very least, have passed the bar examination in your state. Logistically, though, you’ll probably want someone who resides in your city or is close by.
Once you have identified a potential candidate, search for any endorsements from previous customers and coworkers. You should also review their job and educational histories and any additional relevant expertise they may have. A link to the company website will typically be included in a LinkedIn profile. You may find information on how to get in touch with them there.
4. Browse attorney databases.
Online attorney directories might aid in your initial search. For instance, the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School provides a useful tool that allows users to filter results by state, city, and practice area. Their attorney profiles include information about their educational background and prior employment. Some additionally feature customer feedback and endorsements. These are great tools for finding, evaluating, and getting in touch with lawyers who might be a good fit for you.
The Legal Services Corporation can lead you to one of the many legal aid organizations they finance if you require free or low-cost legal assistance. There are many lawyers willing to assist those who are struggling financially; this resource and others like it make it easier to identify these lawyers and can help you get the deserving legal assistance.
5. Have a backup.
Lastly, always have a fallback plan (or two). As with any job, lawyers experience overbooking, illness, and time off. Have a backup lawyer or law firm ready to call if the one you tried to reach out to didn’t respond, especially if your issue is urgent.
For the majority of people, a mix of these tactics will produce the best outcomes. Do not forget that selecting an attorney doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming. You can quickly and easily find qualified representation by utilizing your resources.