When your business has a complex lawsuit that you want filed or defended, how do you find a trial attorney who is the best for the kind of case you have and who is experienced and affordable? There are many areas of the law where not all of the lawyers with subject matter expertise (e.g., contract, torts, etc.) also have the ability to actually prepare and take a difficult case to trial in a competent and professional manner.
Preparing and trying a case to verdict demands an attorney with the strategic
and persuasive ability to convince a jury of the righteousness of your
case. These abilities are independent of the branch or area of law that
is involved. They come from many years of experience in successfully trying
or favorably settling various types of cases. Before you select your attorney,
here are some things you can do that will help ensure that you choose
the right one:
1. Ask the attorney how many cases he or she has tried. Attorneys who
successfully try many cases usually have the respect of other lawyers
and can negotiate a more favorable case settlement.
2. Find out what types of fee arrangements can be made. Attorneys who
typically defend cases normally charge on an hourly basis. One unfavorable
aspect of this type of fee arrangement is that the attorney gets paid
whether you win or lose. A distinct advantage to you, therefore, is a
fee arrangement, such as a contingent (percentage) fee, where the lawyer
only gets paid if you win. Yet another fee arrangement is the lump sum
fee. Again, the lawyer gets paid, win or lose. There are also combinations
of a lump sum fee with a contingency for success.
3. Ask the attorney for a professional resume that sets forth the attorney’s
legal education, memberships in professional (just pay the dues) and honorary
(by invitation only) organizations, awards, experience, publications, etc.
4. Ask around. Business associates who have hired lawyers are sometimes
good sources. Other lawyers in the community usually know who the best
trial lawyers are. Check out the lawyer in a legal directory, such as
the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory©. This publication can usually
be found at your local library. It contains a lawyer’s legal ability
and ethics ratings, using input from lawyers in the local community who
know the lawyer.
5. A face-to-face meeting with the lawyer is a good idea. You can learn
a lot about the lawyer’s personality, demeanor and, if you ask a
few questions, about his ethics and standards. You should feel comfortable
and at ease with your lawyer.
6. Make sure to ask the lawyer if he or she will personally be involved
in all major aspects of preparing and trying the case.