This article is the first of a short series called Plaintiff 101: Things to Know Before, During and After Litigation.
As a professional settlement planner, I frequently work side-by-side with plaintiffs and attorneys to develop comprehensive settlement arrangements. I have seen firsthand the benefits to clients who select the right lawyer for their case. Hiring an attorney is no doubt a big commitment — not only are plaintiffs going to be in contact with their lawyer throughout the coming months and (more likely) years, but they’re also investing in that person to be their voice against those who wronged them.
Having the right legal representation means the following:
- Getting specialized experience, knowledge and talents on your side,
- Streamlining the lawsuit process with an advocate who has navigated similar cases,
- Having the peace of mind that you’re in good hands, and
- Establishing a great attorney-client relationship build on confidence and trust.
However, if you’ve never filed a lawsuit before, chances are you’re not too familiar with the process of selecting and hiring a lawyer. The Internet is jam-packed with attorney websites and advertisements. How do people narrow down the search? Below, I have compiled a few criteria to help you get started.
Does the attorney specialize in your specific type of case? Personal injury law is a broad field. Many lawyers provide examples of past cases on their website and list the narrower focus of their practice, such as medical malpractice, automobile accidents, etc. The more experience and success an attorney has with cases similar to yours, the better he or she will be able to build your case from day one.
Awards and Recognition
Peer-reviewed publications like Martindale-Hubbell, Super Lawyers, and Best Lawyers rank lawyers by region, which can be a helpful place to start searching. Then, look to professional and legal organizations that recognize outstanding lawyers. For example, local bar and trial lawyers’ associations present prestigious awards to attorneys who have gone above and beyond to advocate for an individual or group or to obtain a groundbreaking verdict.
Great Initial Consultation
After you’ve identified a few lawyers who specialize in handling your type of situation, you should speak to them directly. Here are some good initial questions to ask:
- How much experience do you have with cases like mine?
- What is your fee, and how does it work?
- Does your firm take cases to trial if necessary?
- If I retain your firm to represent me, who will be able to speak with me when I have questions or need updates?
- Am I able to discuss matters directly with my lawyer when needed?
Asking these and other pointed questions during your consultations will give you a sense of each attorney’s personality, confidence, and accessibility. By now, you will likely know who will be the best fit for your case based on their qualifications and your conversation.
Choosing a lawyer for your case isn’t an easy task, but by taking the time to do a little research, you can be confident you have found a good fit.
Stay tuned for the next post in this series!
About John Bair
John Bair has guided thousands of plaintiffs through the settlement process as co-founder of Milestone Consulting, LLC, a broad-based settlement planning and management firm. Milestone’s approach is comprehensive and future-focused. John’s team has guided thousands of clients by taking the time to understand the complexities of each case. They assess the best outcome and find the path that enables each client to manage their many needs. Read more about Milestone Consulting at http://milestoneseventh.com/.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).