How to Choose the Right Lawyer: 5 Criteria to Consider

July 15th, 2020

When it comes to choosing a lawyer, there are several things to consider. Working with a lawyer requires mutual trust from both the client and the lawyer and there are many factors that can contribute to a successful relationship. On top of being concerned about the outcome of the legal need that you have, we know that there are many questions about selecting the right legal team to represent you:

• Is it important to “like” your lawyer?
• What characteristics are important for a good fit with a lawyer?
• Are all lawyers the same?
• What should I look for when choosing my lawyer?

Choosing a lawyer is a very personal decision but there are a few key characteristics to look for to guide your search and help you to make the best choice for your situation and needs. Here are 5 criteria to consider when choosing the right lawyer.

Responsiveness
Working with a lawyer is a big investment and naturally, you want to get a good return on that investment. It is essential that you have confidence that your lawyer or a member of their staff will respond to your calls and e-mail correspondence in a timely manner.

Look for a lawyer that makes you feel valued as a client by making themselves available when you need them.

Do keep in mind that there will be times when background work is taking place with little communication back and forth. When you have trust in the responsiveness of your lawyer, you can rest assured that your file is being given all of the attention it requires during these periods with less contact.

Expertise
There are many facets of the law, and as such, many different levels of expertise. If it is important to you to choose a lawyer that has had specific training and experience in a particular type of law, be sure to add this to your checklist to guide your search.

One side of the coin, a lawyer who services a wide range of clients might not have the targeted knowledge or access to professional associations that give specialized lawyers a definite advantage in some cases.

On the other hand, if your legal needs are best suited to a lawyer familiar with many aspects of general law, be careful to select a lawyer that has the diversity in training and experience that you require. A specialized lawyer may not have the know-how to efficiently and effectively meet your ongoing needs and could end up costing you valuable time and money.

Experience
Of course every lawyer is “new” at one point, but if you find comfort in knowing that your lawyer has been in practice for a long time and has built a reputation with local judges, don’t ignore that feeling. Don’t be shy about asking your lawyer direct questions about their successes and relationships with local authorities that they have established through the years, and similarly, ask for specifics when seeking recommendations and referrals from friends, colleagues and family.

Availability
Many legal needs are time sensitive, and most cases have periods when lawyers need to devote significant time and resources. As such, it is important to consider your specific needs when choosing a lawyer to ensure that they will be fully available to represent you when you need them the most. Consider the location, office hours, holiday closures, etc. in relation to your availability for meetings, conferences and court dates.

Communication Style
Being able to communicate authentically with your lawyer is essential to a successful relationship. When choosing a lawyer, pay attention to the amount of legalese, jargon, acronyms, and simply “over your head” communication that takes place and judge accordingly.

It is equally important that the lawyer you hire is a good listener and shows a willingness to learn about you and your situation. Look for a lawyer that can match your tone and energy to help you feel at ease when discussing sensitive matters. After all, lawyers are here to help, and you should feel better, not worse, after speaking with your lawyer.

In summary, think about your specific legal needs and the characteristics you value in a lawyer before you start your search. Don’t get distracted by unrelated information or fees when you start your search: the relationship with your lawyer is an important one and your success and comfort will benefit by ensuring a good fit.