Argh, you’ve got a legal problem and you need a lawyer. You have no idea where to start. What do you do?
When you hear the word “lawyer”, we forgive you for thinking expensive suits and expensive offices.
We also forgive you if you think using a lawyer will cost you “shiploads” or that lawyers are unethical, arrogant, pretentious ambulance chasing money-grubbers with egos bigger than the size of Western Australia. We forgive you because we’ve dealt with some of these kinds of lawyers ourselves.
But we also understand that if you’re looking at hiring a lawyer then you have some kind of legal problem which is probably causing a great deal of stress and sleepless nights and you need some help.
People with legal problems should get help from a lawyer. Especially if you’ve been charged with a criminal offence, you’ve been injured in an accident, there’s a parenting dispute, a marriage or defacto relationship has broken down or there’s disagreements about debts or assets.
Choosing a lawyer doesn’t need to be an intimidating, time-consuming or frustrating process. In this article, we provide some tips to help you choose a lawyer that’s right for you.
Research, research, research
Make sure you do your research into the lawyers you are looking at hiring. Consider reviews from past clients. Ask around.
Legal work can get pretty personal at times. Make sure you choose a lawyer whose professional, but who also makes you feel comfortable and who you can get along with.
At the end of the day, law firms are like any other business. If the law firm or the lawyer doesn’t provide a good service then don’t use them.
Are they a specialist?
As part of your research, look for lawyers who specialise in the area of law that you need. A lawyer who specialises in industrial relations law or commercial leasing is probably not the best person to help you through a divorce.
Ask lots of questions about the lawyer’s practice. How many similar cases like yours have they handled? Which lawyer will be working on your case? How many cases like yours have they personally handled?
If you’re in Queensland then you can find a solicitor that specialises in a particular area of law by using the “find a solicitor” search function through the Queensland Law Society website.
Understand how legal fees will be charged
It’s important to understand what legal work your lawyer will be doing for you. Ask heaps of questions. There’s no shame in asking questions. And if your lawyer makes you feel uncomfortable or silly for asking questions, then don’t use them.
Some lawyers will offer their first meeting free-of-charge. Some lawyers offer fixed fees, others charge by the hour and others offer “no win, no fee” deals. Make sure you understand when you will be billed, how you will be billed, what you will be billed for and about how much your case will cost.
Lawyers have an obligation to keep clients updated on estimated costs. Depending on the value of the legal work to be completed, lawyers are required by law to disclose in writing certain information to their clients about legal costs and to have written agreements with their clients.
If you’re in Queensland, the Queensland Government has published some very useful information about legal costs agreements. To access these resources, click here.
Negotiate the legal fees
Did you know you can negotiate how much you are willing to pay for the legal work that lawyers do? It’s true.
Consider how much you are willing to spend, or can spend, on legal fees. Share your budget with the lawyers that you are considering hiring. Be honest about this.
Now that we’ve given you some things to think when choosing the right lawyer for you, it’s time to go ahead and get started. Hiring a lawyer doesn’t need to be an intimidating, time-consuming or frustrating process.
At Crouch & Lyndon Lawyers, we focus on making the process of hiring a lawyer as easy as possible. Tell us about your legal problem and your budget. Let’s talk about how we can help. Connect with us by clicking here.