How to Find and Choose a Good Lawyer

If you need a lawyer---you need a good one!

Hiring a good attorney

The Need

Hi there, Luke here, with a few thoughts on how to find a lawyer who will do a good job on your case, without overcharging you, and who will be enjoyable to work with.

Here is a handful of some of the most common ways people often choose a lawyer:

  1. Call that guy whose billboard you’ve seen lots of times
  2. Pick the first lawyer with a full-page ad in the yellow pages
  3. Click on the first link on the top of the page in your Google search
  4. Contact a referral service
  5. Ask a question on those “free legal advice sites” and get swarmed with answers like “This is complex. You need a lawyer.  Call me!”

The Problem

Unfortunately, these are potential minefields.  What they all have in common is that the lawyers are saying, “Pick me! Pick Me! I want your money!”  In fact, in numbers 1 – 4 (and often #5), the lawyers are spending a lot of money to get your attention.  As you can imagine, they aren’t charities.  Some will see you as their meal ticket, and little more.

Worse, you usually have no way of knowing if they are any good!

The Solution

There’s a much better way to find a lawyer you can trust.  It’s simple:

  1. Know a good one in advance.

I’m being ridiculous, of course, but it’s still, sadly, true.

(The Solution in Real Life)

If you don’t already know a good lawyer in advance, not all is lost.  There are still a couple of ways to find a good one who will work hard to earn your trust and protect your interests.

  1. Ask around among people you already know and trust.
  2. Call multiple lawyers and interview them until you find one who gives you a good gut feeling

Each of these has its benefits and dangers.

Asking around

Be careful.  Most people have never used a lawyer, and those who have might not have any idea if their lawyer was a good one, because they have no other experience to use in comparison.  “My lawyer seemed alright” shouldn’t give you much comfort.

However, if someone can describe to you why their lawyer was so great, for example “He communicated with me really well, he explained all my options, and he never pressured me to make a decision,” or “He actually tried to save me money by showing me a way to accomplish my goal without a lawyer,” you’re off to a good start.

Calling lawyers yourself

Once again, be careful. If you need a lawyer, you’re probably already in a stressful and confusing situation.  Don’t just go with the first lawyer who says, “Sure, I can help you with that.  Send me a check and I’ll get on it.”  Also, be wary of lawyers who try to scare you into hiring them, or who put down other lawyers in an attempt to make themselves seem like your best option.

Who should you hire, then?  Like I said a moment ago, it’s often your smartest move to go with your gut:

  • Does the lawyer seem like he knows what he’s doing, or does he just say that he does?
  • Is the lawyer talking about how affordable she is, or how much she is actually going to give you a good return on your dollar?
  • Is the lawyer going to work your case personally or pass it off to a junior associate?
  • Does the lawyer treat you as an equally valuable person or talk down to you?
  • Does the lawyer boast about his elite law school / brag about what a “fighter” he is? Neither of these necessarily means that the lawyer does good legal work.
  • Do you like the lawyer?

If, after talking to the lawyer in your initial consultation, you don’t have a good feeling about the lawyer, call another one.

Conclusion

I’ve had to hire lawyers three times in my life.  The first two times (incidentally, before I was a lawyer myself), all I did was ask for recommendations from others, and I had no idea what questions to ask before hiring the lawyers.  In both cases, I spent thousands of dollars and got nothing, literally nothing, out of it.  In the first, I even had to call the lawyer and say, “Isn’t the contract supposed to say [something different than he wrote],” to which he replied, “Oops, good job catching that!”

When I started writing this, I had planned to write a very positive note.  Looking back, I see a lot of warnings in addition to the constructive advice.  Thing is, they still apply:  If you need a lawyer, you need a good one.

Obviously, I think I’m one of the good ones.  I founded my practice on the principle that I was going to help people, not just make money off of them.  I invite you to call me and find out for yourself.  Even if I don’t think I’m the right lawyer for you, I will do my best to recommend the one who is.

For a free confidential case review, call (928)501-LUKE

About Luke Salava 3 Articles
Luke is a personal injury and bankruptcy attorney licensed in Arizona and Washington. He's also friendly and enjoyable to talk with, and he probably has some good advice to share with you, or he will at least lend you an open ear ... so you'd better call!
Contact: Facebook

4 Comments on How to Find and Choose a Good Lawyer

  1. Good job on the “Superhumans” show, Luke! My brother and I are regular watchers of the show and we both picked you to win. We’re sorry you didn’t! (And not just because you’re a fellow Phoenician; we truly thought you were the most amazing of the contenders.) Anyway, congratulations. And if we ever need an attorney in your category, we’ll look you up!

    • Hi there Janet and Jerry! What a lovely surprise to see that you looked me up to send me such a heartening message! Thank you so much for your kind words of support.

      I do hope you never need an attorney for anything, but if someone you know does, please think of sending them my way. I’ll definitely try to help or, if I don’t practice that area of law, I’ll try to refer them to an honest and likeable lawyer who I trust will do a great job.

  2. I like your advice to ask others for recommendations on lawyers and make sure that they can tell you why they were great. My cousin and her husband are filing for bankruptcy and are wondering how to find the best attorney to help them through the process. I’ll be sure to tell her that she should ask others for recommendations on bankruptcy attorneys and make sure that they are able to state why they were so useful.

    • Thanks, Ashley! I know how confusing it can be when you don’t know where to turn, and how scary it can be when you wonder how much it will all cost. Good legal work SAVES most people money (and frustration) in the end, however. I hope it goes well with your family members.

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