Hiring a Personal Injury or Labor and Employment Lawyer. There are probably many opinions concerning the finding and hiring of an attorney, but this is how we would do it after practicing law for many years.
Areas of Expertise
First, it is important to understand that there are different areas of legal practice in which an attorney may specialize or focus their practice . As recognized by Ross Perot “[b]e aware that any law firm benefits by developing new skills at your expense in areas of expertise that it does not have. Avoid this situation by hiring the best qualified lawyers in specialty area.” Perot, Ross. My Life & The Principles For Success. The Summit Publishing Group, 1996.
You need to understand the different areas of law and how your legal issue fits within these areas. If you are an employer needing an employment handbook or facing a discrimination claim, an attorney specializing in employment law would be a place to start. If you are injured or a loved one is killed as a result of negligence or a trucking or car accident, there are attorneys specializing in personal injury trial law. A lawyer specializing in family law may be able to help you with a divorce or child support issues. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization has a listing of 21 different areas of practice in which Texas lawyers may obtain Board Certifications.
Once you have determined what type of attorney you need, you can focus on finding the best qualified oner for your particular legal need.
Is the attorney board certified? Only board certified attorneys have been tested at the highest level and earned the right to publicly represent themselves as a specialist in a select area of law. You may visit the Texas Board of Legal Specialization to see the standards for certification.
What experience does he or she have with your particular legal matter? For example, they may be a great car accident lawyer, but have no experience dealing with car manufacturers in crashworthiness cases, electrocution cases against utility companies or oil field injury cases. Do not assume that the lawyer has experience. Ask them why they feel qualified to handle your particular case.
Are Advertising Lawyers the Best Choice?
Simply because a lawyer has a number of television ads, has his or her face on 1/2 of the billboards in town, or has the flashiest phone book ad does not mean they are the best qualified lawyer for your case. In fact, advertising can play into the hands of a skilled defense attorney who asks the jury panel in a trial the simple question: “Do you know Mr. Advertising Lawyer? You may have seen him on TV or on a billboard or full-page ad in the phone book.” The obvious implication being that Mr. Advertising Lawyer is an ambulance chaser. Credibility is everything in a trial and advertising that may take a jury’s focus from your personal loss or the opposing party’s conduct can be devastating. This does not mean that there are not great lawyers that advertise. The fact that an attorney advertises and how much, however, should be considered when deciding whether to hire them.
What will the Lawyer Charge You?
What is the fee arrangement? Most personal injury or wrongful death cases are handled on a contingency fee. This means that your attorney will receive as his or her fee a certain percentage of the money you receive if you win the case or if you settle the matter. This fee can vary among lawyers and may be different for different types of cases; depending on the complexity of the case, the risk involved with the case and the anticipated cost of preparing the case for trial. It is important to understand up front what percentage the lawyer will receive. Other types of matters can be based on an hourly fee or fixed fee. Again, the important thing it to understand the fees at the beginning of the relationship. Does the law firm offer a free initial consultation?
Are you Comfortable with the Lawyer?
Will you be comfortable working closely with this lawyer? A lawyer-client relationship needs to be a comfortable relationship. You may be required to disclose very personal information to your attorney. You need to be comfortable asking questions and listening to the lawyer. If you are dealing with a larger firm that has a number of attorneys, you need to know which one will be assigned to your case. You do not want to decide you are comfortable with one attorney and find out later that you will be dealing with a different attorney in the firm.