Finding A Good Litigator: (10 Questions To Ask During Your Legal Consultation)
That Is, If You Want To Win...

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    If you are considering filing a lawsuit, the quality of the law firm representing you can be the very choice that makes or breaks your case. Knowing how to find a lawyer who cares passionately about your recovery, not just their fees is essential. You deserve the best representation available. When ready, you can get your initial claim consultation here:

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    Questions to Ask a Lawyer BEFORE You Hire Them

    The following are answers to the questions that often come up when someone is considering hiring an attorney. This list of frequently asked questions when answered by the attorney you are considering working with, should provide you with enough in-depth answers to make sure you have found the best litigator for your particular needs. One who is honest, ethical and focused on his/her clients’ well-being, and who cares about your needs and your recovery.

    Ask Yourself: Can The Legal System Help Me?

    While in an ideal world a person or business that harms another would willingly offer compensation to the injured party, in the real world that is rarely the case. In fact, in many cases trial litigators stand as the last line of defense to hold the negligent and the unlawful accountable.

    It is uncommon for people and businesses to take responsibility for their actions, especially when those actions cause harm to another. When they don't, or they choose to fight, it's time to find a lawyer.

    When making a legal claim against a business or insurance company, they have attorneys who are intimately familiar with the laws that govern their business, while the common citizen rarely has an understanding of legal procedures or their rights. This can often lead to regular Joe or Jane citizen getting bullied out of pursuing their rights under the law.

    The best attorney will know these laws intimately, and they know how to properly present your case so you can have the best chance of winning. A good lawyer is accountable to you, and will lay out your legal options in a clear and easy to understand manner.

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    How Do Lawyer Fees Work?

    In many cases, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that they only get paid (typically a percentage of the settlement) if you win your case. There are no up front costs, and you pay nothing out of pocket - though your claim may not be eligible for representation. Simply take advantage of the free legal review, to ask your questions, get legal counsel and feel out if the lawyer is a good fit.

    Other legal matters in such fields such as bankruptcy, family law (divorce & custody), most employment lawyers and other practice areas may require an up-front fee or a by the hour assessment of costs. Consider carefully the salary being asked for: and our recommendation is to avoid any law firm which doesn't provide a no cost initial consultation.

    In the case of personal injury (Including: product liability, car accident lawyers, class action claims or wrongful death) a law firm will often take on the costs of preparing the case for trial, costs that can quickly surge past the 10's of thousands of dollars - understanding that a client won't always have the money available to fund the costs in building a winning case.

    A contingency lawyer will often need to hire expert witnesses, investigate the incident, and fund all the costs involved with building your case.

    Such arrangements vary, and will depend on your attorney, the scope of your legal matter, the type of case, and the policy of the firm you work with - the key point is that if you have a good, legally sound case, it can often be fought without up front cost to the client.

    Contingency fees vary from state to state, but in most cases will range from 30 to 40 percent. The pertinent questions to ask personal injury attorneys must include fee arrangements, if there are any other court costs you may be responsible for paying, and what amount of a successful recovery goes to your lawyer.

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    Finding the Best Attorneys?

    There are several sources you can use to find a good attorney. Friends, doctors, online directories, the state bar, and other sources can point you in a certain direction, but there are no guarantees that they will refer you to a good one.

    An excellent way to find a good lawyer is to get a referral from a legal professional you already trust. Reputation is often hard fought for and the result of a long career of achieving results. The best lawyers of 2015, and beyond are often top litigators from the past, whose firm and results have established a consistent pattern of excellence.

    If you don't know any legal professionals, consider a firm your friends or family trust -- be sure to consider their actual results, a history of losing is not the ideal choice no matter how likeable, local or friendly the lawyer is.

    Just be sure to ask during your initial consultation about other cases they have litigated, ask about verdicts won, and settlements negotiated. Past results are not an indicator of future returns, but they sure can help you establish whether your litigator has a pattern of success or not.

    If the law office you speak with first doesn't represent your type of case, all is not lost. They can often direct you to the best lawyer for your specialized case. If at any point you are not 'feeling' treated as you deserve, trust your gut, it may be time to seek a different professional.

    Lawyers can also be found in most state bar organization lists, a membership organization such as the American Association for Justice, American Bar Association, or reviewed in an online directory. The caveat with all of these sources is that they are open to all attorneys, and typically as long as the attorney pays the membership or inclusion fee, they can be listed in the referral service, organization, or directory.

    When you are in need of a legal champion, you should dig deeper to find someone who can really make a difference..

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    What About Lawyer Ratings?

    It is common to see or hear personal injury attorneys advertising on T.V., on the radio, and in the yellow pages. Additionally, there are a number of online ratings services like avvo which attempt to rank local attorneys and weed out the bad firms based on client feedback.

    Are these advertising firms and attorney ratings sites the best choice to find someone handle your lawsuit?

    In general, advertisements are a poor way to select an attorney. Client ratings CAN be helpful, however.

    Many advertisements are actually placed by referral agencies, who simply forward you to one of their member law offices in exchange for a large fee for providing this service.

    Even if the advertising is done by the law firm, it is no guarantee they are ideally suited to handle the case type they were advertising for -- typically they were just attracted by the large settlement opportunities.

    The large Yellow Pages ads are just as bad. The most visible legal service, with the best marketing isn't necessarily your best option.

    In truth, the best lawyers rarely need to advertise as they keep very busy simply from referrals. The reason they receive so many referrals is that other legal professionals know they are the best in their field and send clients on a regular basis -- and of course, winning clients whose lives were changed for the better do so every chance they can as well.

    Client satisfaction lawyer ratings offered by sites like Avvo, can be a useful tool in your search for an advocate. Ultimately though, you should go with your gut - what is YOUR impression of the person you talk to. Trust your instincts.

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    Do Different Types of Cases Require Special Lawyers?

    Yes, most definitely. U.S. law is tricky, and especially dense, specialization in a legal professional naturally results. Specialization in law is common and you would not want a medical malpractice lawyer handling your divorce case. Attorneys will often have extensive experience in a particular field, which can make them more effective when fighting cases they understand best.

    Large law firms though, will often have expert attorneys across the various practice areas so that they may call upon their in house experts when need arises and meet client needs whatever may arise.

    Whenever you consult a lawyer, ask them if they have experience with the exact type of case your situation calls for.

    There is no reason to be intimidated by your attorney, they are there to HELP, and SERVE YOU.

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    If I Get My Case Reviewed, Am I Obligated To Hire?

    No, you are not.

    Your lawyer search should focus on firms who provide free initial consultations to determine if they will take your case. These no cost legal reviews should also be used by you to determine if you want to hire them to represent you.

    No matter the practice area, in our opinion it sets a bad precedent if they are focused on getting paid before even hearing your situation.

    You typically will be under no obligation, until you 'sign' stating clearly that they have been hired under clearly stated terms to represent you. If you don't understand everything in the agreement, ask them to clarify.

    Hiring legal representation is a big step and it makes good sense to consult with several law offices to find the team you are comfortable using.

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    What Questions Should I Ask Before Choosing to Sign (Hint: The Best Lawyers Should Have Answers)

    This will depend on your specific case, but here are some generic questions to get you started:

    • What areas of law do you specialize in?
    • Have you taken cases similar to mine in the past? How many? How did they turn out?
    • Will other attorneys beside yourself be working on my case?
    • How long will it take to resolve my case?
    • Do you work on a contingency basis?
    • Can I do anything to improve the chances of my case being successful?
    • If I try to contact you how long will it take for you to return my call?
    • Who will answer my questions if you are unavailable?
    • How frequently do you go to trial?
    • If I am offered a settlement and you recommend I settle, but I disagree, will you still take the case to court?
    • Conversely, if I am happy with the settlement offered, but you think we can get more by going to court, will you agree to settle out of court?
    • Have you ever been censured or disciplined by any legal or ethics committees in the past? If so, why?
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    Final Questions Commonly Raised By Concerned Clients

    Do I Need A Written Retainer Agreement?

    Yes, as this is the best way to protect your rights. Most attorneys use a short and simple agreement, but be sure to read the whole document and ask questions if anything is unclear to you - it should clearly outline the terms of representation, fee arrangements and any obligations agreed to.

    What If I I Don't Like My Lawyer: Can I Fire Him?

    Your legal professional works for you and you do have the right to fire your attorney, but be aware that even if they are working on a contingency basis, they have the right to get paid for any work already done. This typically, but not always, means they will be entitled to a portion of your settlement once your case is resolved. Before you fire your advocate you should consult with the lawyer you DO want to work with. They should be able to explain any fee obligations that may result from your previous case, and how they can be handled.

    If I Want to Appeal Do I Have to Use the Same Lawyer?

    Not unless the retainer agreement specifies that your litigator has the right to take on any appeals.

    What If I Have a Dispute With My Lawyer?

    Most state bar associations have dispute resolution services. If you feel that your representation has acted unethically, there are grievance procedures in every state that allow you to file a complaint against your attorney and have that complaint investigated.

    What's The Next Step To Get Started?

    Need help finding a good lawyer? We can help connect you. Share what happened with an award-winning litigator to get the answers you seek, we are here to HELP, and SERVE YOU, let us ensure you are treated with the dignity and respect you deserve.

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