You and your lawyer: Part 2 – Choosing a lawyer

Posted on 05 November 2012

In Part 1 of our series about you and your lawyer, we discussed why you need a lawyer. But how do you choose a lawyer to partner with? What should you be looking for? Lawyers come to you via many different channels. You may be referred to one. You may Google one. You may inherit one. You may already know one. But are you and your lawyer the right fit?

Receiving the name of a legal professional from someone you know and trust is always a good start. Lawyers, accountants and other business professionals network and each one soon gets to know professionals in other areas whom they trust, admire for their knowledge and the way they undertake their business. Because of all of these attributes, a referral is happily forthcoming. If you trust your accountant and have been happy with the manner in which their business is carried out, trust them to recommend a lawyer they have contact with. If you have a business colleague who has used a lawyer successfully and you believe you have a similar need, trust their recommendation. Your referee may even speak to their lawyer first and let them know you will be calling in.

Unfortunately, lawyers can’t specialise in every area of law and it is important that you receive advice from a legal practitioner who is well versed in your particular area of need. If you have used an employment specialist but now find yourself needing family law advice, seek them out to ask for a referral. They know you and again, may offer to speak to or call ahead to introduce you to their colleague prior to you calling.

In some instances, a specialist may be required with unique skills such as speaking another language. In these cases, it may be best to call The Law Society of NSW which has a free referral service listing all lawyers registered in NSW and their special skills. The service can direct you to a firm or sole practitioner who has the skill you or the person you are assisting, requires.

Advertising is also another medium to use in locating a lawyer. Advertisements are a good way for you to understand the full list of areas of law which advertised firms undertake. You can also quickly see firm names which suit your geographic location.

The other area you need to consider when choosing a lawyer is cost. Whether you think you have a quick question that someone could answer over the phone, or you know you are going to have to sit down with your lawyer and sift through mounds of information which forms your matter, it is important to remember that you are consulting a professional who has skills you do not have. A quick legal question to you, is not necessarily quick in legal terms. The background to that quick question has to be considered in full to enable an educated and legally correct answer to be given. Just as you can’t call a doctor on the phone and ask “what is this lump I have” you can’t call a lawyer and ask “do you think I have a case” and expect an answer over the phone that will be an educated, informed reply.

Costs are the ongoing bane of lawyers lives as they constantly have to justify charging for their time. Legal knowledge is what you are wanting from your lawyer just as medical knowledge is what you want from your doctor. Your lawyer has studied their craft for many years to enable them to assist you. In some instances, in certain areas of law only, the first consultation may be free of charge as costs are recovered through third parties. This does not apply to all areas of law however. You should establish what the cost for an initial consultation will be and then understand fully the charges which will be ongoing for work to be carried out on your behalf.

We know choosing your lawyer is a big decision for you and so it should be. We are happy to work with all new enquiries and referrals to ensure that we are the right fit for all of our clients. This ensures the best out come for all – a value money outcome and a satisfied client.

Coming soon, Part 3 in our series:
Working with your lawyer