Educational Consumer Tips
Most people find a lawyer by getting referrals from friends, neighbors, and colleagues. You may also consult the Lawyer Referral Service found in your local phone directory or the Martindale Hubble Law Directory in your public library or at www.martindalehubble.com.
Lawyers determine their fees based on: time required, the likelihood that another job may require their more immediate attention, customary charges for services like wills or title searches, damages sought, time limits imposed by the client, experience and reputation of the attorney, and whether the fee is fixed or contingent. If you are unable to afford this service, free service may be available from your local Legal Aid Society. In addition, many attorneys perform "pro bono," or volunteer service. Ask and be honest about your particular financial situation.
There are four principal methods of payment: 1) A retainer, in which a lawyer is paid a regular fixed amount to be "on call." 2) Contingency, in which a lawyer is paid a percentage of a court award only if your case is successful. 3) An established fixed fee for a specific service. 4) An hourly rate. These rates should be explained over the phone or in an initial consultation, which is usually offered at no charge.
When dealing with a law firm, make sure that you understand and meet the lawyer who will be primarily responsible for your case. Of primary interest should be whether that attorney has had experience in handling cases similar to yours. The lawyer should ask relevant questions to get the information necessary to pursue your case and be able to explain possible and realistic outcomes.
To get the most from these services be honest, organized, and forthright. But, for your own benefit, always expect professionalism and respect from your attorney.