Those who work in the legal profession can sometimes forget just how foreign this environment can be for the vast majority of people. And if one has to enter the legal world because of a personal need for assistance, or because finding legal representation for their employer is part of their job, the task can seem almost overwhelmingly complex. Fortunately, help can be found in a recent book, Choosing Your Lawyer; An Insider’s Practical Guide to Making a Really Good Choice, by one of the most experienced and thoughtful lawyers we know, John Allison, Esq.
Practical Advice for Making the Right Choice
Choosing Your Lawyer is a tremendously useful and accessible book that explains and demystifies the often-impenetrable world of lawyers for the layperson. John has seen and participated in selecting lawyers from both sides: the “hired” as a law firm-based litigator and the “hiring” as Assistant General Counsel for a Fortune 100 company choosing lawyers with a wide range of legal expertise. He taps over 24 years of experience as a trial lawyer in private practice representing individuals, small businesses, non-profits and large companies, and over 15 years as a lawyer for the 3M Company in charge of managing its litigation, to clearly and succinctly identify the things you should be aware of and think about if you are considering hiring a lawyer. Choosing Your Lawyer is a quick read that clearly outlines elements that are important to think about before making your decision. In addition to providing critical background about the modern legal profession, which affects lawyers and their decision-making process, he covers the following:
- Legal Skills and Experience, including the different types of legal expertise lawyers have and why it’s important to find someone with the right background and experience for your case.
- How to Find Lawyers, including referral sources (e.g., lawyer referral services), questions you should ask and tips to consider when determining if potential candidates might be a good fit for you.
- The Qualities to Look for in a Lawyer, including those critical, but more intangible, elements so critical to an effective working partnership for your case. John discusses questions to ask to evaluate how candidates would work to build trust, communicate effectively with you, and whether they have the reputation for professionalism you need. Answers to these questions can help ensure the lawyer you choose is the right “fit” for you.
- Red Flags. Importantly, John also outlines “red flags” you should avoid when shopping for legal representation. He encourages you to look beyond the obvious to consider candidates’ personal backgrounds, agendas and records, and gives practical suggestions about how to assess that information.
- Legal Fees, which is an often-taboo subject to tackle, John addresses by outlining the three basic types of fee arrangements, the pros and cons of each, and how you can decide what type is best for you.
- How to Learn about Lawyers Online, including four easy steps you can take to find out about specific lawyers online, to help ensure you have the as much current information as possible before making your decision.
- The Interview, including questions to ask during that all-important interview with candidates.
Knowing You’ve Made the Right Decision
Choosing Your Lawyer ends by describing how you will know you’ve made the right decision. Using this book can help you reach that right decision by providing practical advice about how to choose the best lawyer for you. We believe that taking the advice Choosing Your Lawyer provides can simplify your selection of the right lawyer to represent you.
By: Barbara Hillmer, Ph.D. – Senior Consultant