February 21, 2013
By Andrew Bluestone
Hiring an attorney can be an anxiety provoking task. Perhaps you are buying a home, or have been injured or been discriminated against. You need an attorney to help you with a specific situation, and you want to make the best choice. What should you be thinking about?
The first thing to do is to summarize why you need an attorney into one sentence. This will help you decide whom to call, and what to say once you have called. “I am buying a home, and need a closing attorney” or “I was injured in an auto accident and need an attorney” or “I’m going into business, and need an attorney to set up a partnership.” Almost any human legal need can be summed up in one sentence.
Once you know what you need, the next step is to try to get the right kind of attorney for you. You should consider calling the New York Attorney Referral hotline, and if you don’t live in NYC, call the Bar Association of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, etc. Tell them what you need an attorney for, and they will give you some names to call.
The next thing you could do is to look online. No one uses yellow pages anymore, although once there were hundreds of pages of attorneys there. Online, look for attorneys who concentrate in one area. Looking at an attorney who specializes in injury, contract, divorce, bankruptcy, labor law and discrimination means that the attorneys does not concentrate in any one area. Better to look for a specialist. Use the various rating services such as AVVO, Martindale-Humble and Law.Com. Look for consumer reviews and the ratings. In AVVO a 10/10 is best, and in Martindale-Humble a AV or a BV ratings are really good.
Right about now, you should be thinking about a budget for the attorney. There are different kinds of payment arrangements. There are hourly rates, and contingent fees, as well as flat fees. You should discuss how the attorney plans to work, and what amount of money you can expect to pay.
Next article: What to say to the attorney once you have him on the phone.