While no one likes to get tied up in the legal system, the odds are overwhelming that you’ll need to work with a law firm at some point in your life. Realizing that you need an attorney can certainly be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time, and you may be at a loss as to how to continue. To get started, try breaking the types of law into the categories that are most commonly needed.
Criminal Law: You’ll need a criminal lawyer if you’ve been charged with illegal activity. They’ll defend you against prosecutors and ensure that your basic rights are upheld.
Family Law: A family lawyer focuses on the legal relationships between family members. Such a lawyer may practice matrimonial law, divorce law, child welfare, and much more.
Personal Injury Law: These lawyers represent accident victims or injured parties who have been unfairly denied insurance claims. They may even get involved in health care law on occasion, such as with instances of medical malpractice. They work toward fair settlement negotiations for their clients.
Business Law: Lawyers in this field deal with the legal administration of corporations. This frequently means assisting with forming or dissolving a corporation, as well as overseeing mergers and acquisitions. They may also assist with alleged business violations, such as if your restaurant chain is accused of a public health violation.
Understanding which type of attorney you need is the only way to start working toward the specific lawyer who is right for you. Here are some ways you can narrow the search further.
Check their experience.
While every lawyer goes through an impressive amount of education and likely has a passion for their chosen field, there’s more to being a lawyer than having a law degree. You can use online databases, like Super Lawyers, to help you find lawyers in your practice area and check their areas of expertise. This will include practice areas, client reviews, and disciplinary records (if applicable).
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down a bit, you can prepare specific questions for when you go in for a free consultation. As the client, you can think of yourself as being like a company that’s looking for the best possible candidate for the job. You’ll need to ask about how frequently each lawyer deals with cases like yours, what their success rate is like, how often they’ve appeared before a judge and jury, and who in the firm will be working on your case. These questions should give you a good idea about how seriously each lawyer will take your case and how likely they are to do well with it.
Look for things you connect with.
It’s possible that you find multiple lawyers who all seem like they could do a great job with your case. In these situations, you’ll just need to go with whichever attorney makes you the most comfortable. Maybe their activities outside their law firm are things that impress you.
For example, consider Howard Fensterman, the managing partner at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Greenberg, Formato & Einiger, LLP. He was selected by the governor of New York to serve on the New York State Public Health Council in 2008. Currently, when he’s not in the law office, he serves on the Public Health Council Establishment Committee and as a member on the Board of Trustees for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America – Long Island Chapter. Mr. Fensterman is also active in various philanthropy communities and is a well-known mineral collector and enthusiast.
If you find that you connect with the extracurricular activities of one lawyer over the rest of your choices, then that may be enough for you to make the final decision. Choosing a lawyer with who you’re comfortable is important for your mental health and stress levels.