When it comes to hiring a lawyer, you probably have several hundred options to choose from in your state. But how do you know which one is the best fit for your case?
How to Create a Lawyer Short List
When you need a lawyer, you need a lawyer. And if you don’t have any personal connections who are attorneys, you may feel like you’re in a helpless position.
With so many options to choose from, you’re uncertain of who to call or where to go for help. But don’t worry – finding the right attorney doesn’t have to be an impossibly stressful task. It all starts with creating a short list.
A short list is a list of maybe three to five candidates who might be the right lawyer for you. Based on this list, you perform further research and vetting to eventually whittle it down to just one option. But before we discuss the “whittling” process, here are two of the best ways to create your short list:
- Tap your personal network. It’s always a good idea to begin with your own network. Because while you might not personally know any attorneys who can help, there’s a good chance that you know someone who knows a good attorney. (Try asking friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues.) When a referral comes from someone you trust, it automatically makes you feel more confident.
- Search online directories. Online directories, like Avvo, FindLaw, and your state’s official Bar website, can help you find the highest rated attorneys with the best credentials.
Tips for Vetting Lawyers on Your Short List
When creating your short list, be cautious. It’s tempting to go with the attorney whose face you see plastered across billboards and TV screens, but don’t conflate ad spend with lawyer quality. Some of these attorneys are very good at what they do. Others are simply skilled marketers disguised as lawyers.
How can you tell the difference between great attorneys and average ones? Here are several tips to help you select the right lawyer from your list:
- Do Some Online Research
Quickly perform some online research for each attorney on your list. In addition to running some basic Google and social media searches, you can run their name through various attorney credential sites to make sure they’re in good standing with the state Bar and that past clients are happy with the representation they received.
- Consider Specialization
Specialization is very important. An attorney who claims to be a jack of all trades is usually a master of none. You want a lawyer who is totally focused on cases like yours.
For example, if you’re involved in an injury claim in Florida – like a car accident or a trip and fall – you want a firm like Matthews Injury Law that specializes in Florida personal injury cases. You don’t want some national law firm that also does tax law and criminal law.
- Look at Their Track Record
Past results are never indicative of future success. However, an attorney’s track record does give you a pretty good feel for how skilled they are. You’ll want to inquire about past cases to get a feel for how successful they’ve been.
- Ask the Right Questions
Most attorneys will offer a free initial consultation to individuals who need legal assistance. These are typically no-obligation meetings where you can share some of the basic details of your case and see if there’s a good fit for representation. During this meeting, you should ask questions like:
- What kind of experience do you have with similar cases?
- What would your strategy be for my case?
- Are there alternatives to going to court?
- What possible outcomes do you see?
- How does compensation for my case work?
The answers to these questions will give you a feel for whether or not they are the right attorney for your case. Unless you’re absolutely blown away by the first lawyer you speak with, it’s usually a good idea to meet with a couple of attorneys so that you can compare.
Find the Right Fit
Finding the right lawyer is about finding the right fit. Factors like credentials, experience, past success, personality, and fees will all come into play. However, at the end of the day, you have to decide which attorney you feel most comfortable with.