10 Tips for Hiring an Attorney for Your Case
We know how personal, business, and property damage can disrupt your world. You suddenly have to handle the physical, emotional, mental, and financial stressors resulting from the incident. And, if you were wronged or harmed by another party, there may be legal ramifications to sort through.
Finding an attorney to be in your corner is valuable, as long as they are the right advocate for you. If you don’t know where or how to begin, follow our 10 steps below. We at Huber Thomas Law want to help simplify this overwhelming process for you.
1. Determine if it’s the right time to hire an attorney.
If you have recently been harmed by the negligence or carelessness of another, it may be time to seek the support of an attorney. It’s important to begin the process of hiring an attorney as soon as possible, giving your legal team ample time to protect your best interests.
When the following events occur, be sure to get your search started immediately.
- Physical injury due to negligence, including vehicle accidents or slip and fall
- Wrongful actions against your business
- Injury due to a product’s design, manufacturing, or label defect
- Property damage following a natural disaster
2. Decide what type of attorney you need.
Many attorneys specialize in a specific type of law, whether through a certification or a long history in a specific practice area. Deep knowledge and experience set clients up for better case success. There are many attorney specialties, including estate planning, intellectual property, and personal injury, to name a few. Below are a few specific cases and the type of attorney needed for each.
Physical Injury Due to Negligence
If you were injured in an automobile, rideshare, trucking, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, or boating accident, you need a personal injury attorney. You will also need to seek a personal injury attorney if you’ve experienced a slip and fall on someone else’s property.
Wrongful Actions Against Your Business
If you and your business have been financially harmed through the negligent or fraudulent acts of an individual or another business, you must hire an attorney who deals with business torts. These actions could include contract interference, restraint of trade, theft of trade secrets, misrepresentation, trade libel, or defamation.
Injury Due to a Product’s Design, Manufacturing, or Label Defect
When a product has caused you harm, you must hire a product liability attorney quickly. Injury caused by a product could be due to a design, manufacturing, or label defect. A product liability attorney will help you navigate the complexities of these cases and hold companies accountable for any damage.
Property Damage Following a Natural Disaster
In the Gulf South, we are all too familiar with the profound losses natural disasters can cause. There are ways to recover if you have a property damage attorney in your corner. A property damage attorney can help you navigate insurance claims after the flood, hurricane, fire, and tornado damage. Hiring a property damage attorney can also be advantageous in the event of willful damage, including graffiti and arson.
3. Research attorneys in New Orleans.
Once you understand what type of attorney you need, it’s time to do your due diligence before hiring one. By searching “personal injury attorneys near me” or “property damage attorney New Orleans” online via Google, you’ll find listings and websites that match your search. Take a glimpse at the websites of the firms and attorneys listed to get an idea of whether they match the type of assistance you need.
4. Evaluate attorney experience.
Many attorneys and firms include their “resumé” of experience on their websites. However, experience is about more than where the attorneys went to law school. Review each firm's history and success stories to get an idea of their level of experience in your specific area of need.
5. Read attorney reviews and ask around.
A firm’s reputation is an important factor to consider when choosing an attorney to hire. By asking personal connections, such as family and friends, and reading online reviews, you can get a good idea of their trustworthiness, integrity, and success rate. Community reviews can be found in places like Facebook business pages and Google listings.
6. Schedule more than one attorney consultation.
To be your best advocate, and find the best advocate for you, scheduling more than one consultation with a list of attorneys is key. This is a time when you can ask your potential attorney all of your most pressing questions before hiring them. Many firms provide free consultations for this reason, allowing potential clients to fully evaluate their firm’s approach, fee structure, and compatibility.
7. Prepare a list of questions to ask each attorney.
Before your consultations, prepare a list of questions that you would like to ask each attorney. Asking each firm the same set of questions will give you an idea of their comfortability with your type of case, compatibility with you as a client, and communication style in educating you about your case. Common questions include:
- What is your experience with my type of case?
- How many cases have you handled in [insert type of law]?
- What have been some of your case outcomes?
- What is your typical approach or process?
- Do you have trial experience?
- Can you send me references from past clients?
- What is your current assessment of my case?
- How will you keep me updated on my case?
- What outcome do you expect for my case?
- When do you expect this case to be resolved?
- What is your fee structure?
- Are there any additional costs I should be mindful of?
No question is off the table when it comes to finding the right attorney for you. A trustworthy attorney will want to make sure you are equipped with knowledge regarding your case.
8. Compare attorney fee structures and affordability.
Financial affordability should be considered before hiring an attorney. Fee structures differ depending on the attorney or firm. Some may charge a flat fee or by the hour, and some will charge a fee based on a percentage of the winnings in your case.
Payment By the Hour
Some attorneys charge their clients based on the number of hours worked. These hours accumulate through client meetings, case research, document drafting and reviewing, and time spent in court. The hours spent on these activities will then be multiplied by the attorney’s hourly rate and billed to you on a predetermined schedule. Some attorneys may even charge a retainer fee that can be withdrawn as they bill you for services.
When working with an attorney who has an hourly fee, be sure to review the itemized bill carefully for any discrepancies. This bill will contain a total of the hours spent, a description of the work done, and the hourly rate charge.
Payment Through Flat Fee
For uncomplicated matters, some attorneys charge a flat fee. This flat fee will cover the service and the specific activities it requires, no matter how long the case takes. You’ll receive an agreement with all service and flat fee details and be expected to pay this flat fee upfront. You will not be charged additional fees unless you request additional services, the scope of work shifts, or unexpected issues arise. In the event of these circumstances, your attorney will revise the agreement and require your approval before pursuing additional services.
Payment Through Contingency
Of all fee structures, contingency is the most cost-effective for the client. The attorney will not charge you an hourly or flat fee, but they will charge you based on the case outcome. This means your attorney will only get paid if they are successful in recovering money for you. If the case is not successful, you are not responsible for paying your attorney.
Typical contingency fees are 33.33-40% of recovered compensation and will be agreed upon before the work begins. Your contract will outline all of the contingency terms, including how the attorney fee is calculated and any additional expenses that may be deducted. These additional expenses may include fees for depositions, witnesses, or filing. Please note that a contingency fee is not permissible in every type of case.
9. Choose the attorney that is the most compatible.
If you’ve found attorneys who have the right specialty, experience, reputation, and fee structure, but still can’t decide whom to choose, go with your gut. Ask yourself if the attorney made you feel seen, heard, and reassured. Their resumé and reputation mean nothing if they cannot treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve. An attorney who is truly in your corner will be a fierce advocate who listens to your needs.
10. Understand your Representation Agreement.
When you’ve made your choice, be sure to fully understand the agreement between you and your attorney. All of the terms of your relationship will be documented in an easy-to-understand, one-page contract, your Representation Agreement, that will outline all of these topics.
Scope of Work
Your engagement letter will detail the services your attorney will provide and stipulate any services or activities that may be deemed “out of scope.”
Whether hourly, flat, or based on contingency, your attorney’s fee structure, including hourly rates and/or contingency percentages, will be outlined in the engagement letter. The payment schedule will also be outlined and agreed upon.
Your engagement letter will also express what is expected of you in working toward a successful case. You will be required to cooperate fully, including supplying documents and information that will support your case.
Your attorney should reassure you that your case will be kept confidential. However, there may be cases in which information must be disclosed. The parameters regarding case confidentiality will be detailed in the engagement letter.
Termination of Contract
If either party needs to end the case, a termination clause will outline guidance for doing so. This clause will specify how the contract may be terminated and the fees associated with termination.
Add Huber Thomas to Your Attorney Search
The process of finding an experienced attorney you can trust can be overwhelming. At Huber Thomas Law, we want potential and current clients to be equipped with knowledge and confidence. This sense of trust is how we’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients within our practice specialties:
- Personal Injury
- Business Torts
- Products Liability
- Property Damage
We take the stress off of you through clear communication, informed guidance, swift action, and personal attention. Contact Huber Thomas Law when you’re ready to work with a tireless advocate for your case.