How to Select a Lawyer

The person you select to represent you in a serious criminal or personal injury/wrongful death case is of similar importance to your choice of the doctor who will perform the surgery which dictates life or death. Your choice can improve or diminish your chance of the outcome you hope for.

The selection process involves two general considerations. First, does the lawyer have the overall and specialized experience necessary to successfully and comprehensively handle your case. Like any job, it takes many years to become highly skilled. Because of the complexity of the laws and rules, and the skills necessary to excel at preparing for and handling a trial, some of the many attributes that demonstrate experience and skill are: 1) Arizona State Bar certification in either criminal or personal injury/wrongful death law. This certification is obtained only by demonstrating a participation in a certain number of cases, trials, pretrial motions and appeals in the area of specialty; 2) Inclusion in legitimate legal organizations that ‘limit’ its membership to the best lawyers in a certain specialty (Examples: Super Lawyers Of The Southwest, Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, Arizona’ Finest Lawyers); 3) Referrals from other lawyers and judges who are in a position to know or hear of the reputation of a lawyer.

Second, after meeting or talking to a lawyer, the client’s impression of whether the lawyer seems like the kind of person he/she can work with and relate to is important. This is a much more subjective criterion, but of equal importance. If you feel the lawyer is not being candid, or talks ‘at you’ not to you, then he/she may not be the right lawyer to retain no matter how impressive the credentials.

Another important issue is whether you can afford to retain a lawyer. If hiring a lawyer would make it difficult or impossible to pay for necessities, it is best not to add that type of stress to an already stressful situation.

Obtaining the right Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney

After you obtain referrals from another lawyer, or judge, do some research on the internet, or other actions designed to find the right lawyer, it is best to prepare for your initial meeting with a lawyer by making a list of the questions regarding experience, style, fees, and other subjects so that you can address the right questions during the interview process, and make the best decision.

How Not to Select a Lawyer

1. By relying on the assertions in an advertisement you see or hear on a Bus panel, Bus Stop, Billboard, Newspaper, Radio, TV, Social Media or elsewhere. Do you think that a lawyer who is highly competent and well thought of needs to use this type of media to attract clients? Do you think lawyers paying the kind of money it takes to advertise will charge a fair price, spend the appropriate time on your case and personally handle it if he/she spends their time and money engaged in self promotion and needs a volume of cases to justify the expense?

2. If the lawyer or law firm uses words that don’t make sense or are misrepresentative, such as:

“Litigation Attorney” – a lawyer that doesn’t actually take cases to trial, but merely litigates them and then settles. The truth is that there are very few trials anymore. The national statistics indicate approximately 5% or less cases go to trial. But the ability, knowledge and experience needed to try the case is important. It helps in negotiating the best result. If there is no threat of trying the case and winning, a negotiating tool is missing. If trial is necessary, independent skills are needed to obtain the best result. There is no formula for which case goes to trial and which does not. Demand proof that the lawyer you select has successful trial experience.

“Aggressive” – a lawyer that claims to be aggressive is one that has only one speed — a speed that will sometimes deter resolution. There is a time and place for employing many different styles of negotiation.

3. Lawyers or their employees who use ‘hard sell’ tactics. Anyone who tells you there isn’t time to consider your choice of lawyers, that denigrates other lawyers you have or wish to interview, or other tactics to convince you to sign a fee agreement immediately are typically looking after their interests, not yours. You wouldn’t buy a used car from someone like that and you shouldn’t retain a lawyer who acts like that.

4. Lawyers who promise results. No one can honestly guarantee a result. There are too many variables outside the lawyers control. If a certain result has been achieved in another case of a similar nature, it is appropriate to discuss that other case with the understanding every case is unique.

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Would you hire a chiropractor to perform open-heart surgery? Selecting the right lawyer is no different. Retaining someone with experience and knowledge is the intelligent way to obtain the best result.

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