Hiring an attorney can be one of the biggest decisions you make. At some point, most people find themselves in a situation where they seek out the counsel of an attorney. Situations arise and you need someone to help you get through the tough parts of life. However, you have a lot to consider when choosing the right attorney for your situation. The wrong choice can set you back years financially. The bigger the legal issue, the more time you should spend making sure you chose the right attorney or law firm.
Legal matters in Louisiana range from minuscule to life alteration and it is wise to speak with an attorney before you make any big decisions. There are a wide variety of legal matters and most attorneys specialize in only a few areas of law. You wouldn’t entrust the future of your family in the hands of an attorney that doesn’t specialize in family law, just as you would want to bring your medical malpractice claim to an experienced attorney who handles those types of cases on a daily basis. With that being said, there can easily be overlap in the types of cases attorneys handle. For example, many criminal defense attorneys in Louisiana also handle family law because the two go hand-in-hand. Do your homework and ask the right questions during your consultation.
The good thing about the internet age is you can research Louisiana attorneys before you make the first call. Read client reviews in depth to be sure you feel comfortable with the attorney, but keep in mind, not all reviews are honest. Opposing parties have been known to write negative reviews about attorneys they never worked with.
Most Louisiana attorneys offer a free consultation before hiring them. Use this opportunity to meet with your potential attorney and discuss any concerns you may have. This is your chance to kick the tires and determine whether your personalities and goals match. There’s nothing wrong with meeting with an attorney and not hiring them. Spend as much time as you need getting to know them because your case could easily take a number of years and you will have to deal with your attorney often depending on the complexity of your case.
This guide will give you some insight and tips on how to hire an attorney in Louisiana and to ensure you make an informed decision. Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice. It is merely a guide to help you learn more about choosing the best attorney in Louisiana for your legal matters.
Legal experience can make a huge difference in your case. The longer an attorney is in practice, the more types of cases and situations they will encounter. They’ve learned what each judge they practice in front of expects and they will have first-hand experience when a problem arises. However, experience isn’t to be confused with intelligence or passion. Just because an attorney is new to the career doesn’t mean they won’t be able to win your case. A new attorney could just as easily win and fight tooth and nail for your rights. Legal experience is just one thing you should consider when hiring an attorney in Louisiana.
You want an attorney that’s passionate about winning your case or protecting your rights. This is your life and your case could affect you for years. Find the attorney that will work your case diligently, intelligently and with passion.
There’s a good chance you will have to contact your attorney multiple times for the duration of your case. Many attorneys are available when you call, but some are tough to nail down when you need to check on the status of your case. A responsive attorney is one that will answer your calls, return emails and possibly text if that’s how you agree to communicate. Attorneys are busy individuals, but they must make themselves available to discuss your case when you need them. If it takes weeks for your attorney to return your call, you may need to reevaluate whether they are the best fit for you. However, be prepared to not have your phone call returned the same day in some instances. Attorneys spend a great deal of time in court and they can’t always estimate when they will finish, so keep that in mind.
General practice attorneys practice in a few different areas of Louisiana law, while others specialize in one narrow portion of the law. No attorney can be the expert in every aspect of law. There just isn’t enough time to learn everything. Your attorney will likely be well-versed in a few areas and that’s what they focus their law practice on. You need to ask the right questions during your free consultation to determine that your attorney actually handles your type of case. Ask them how many cases of that nature they take and how many they’ve taken in their career. You probably don’t want to be that attorneys first case in that area of law unless they can prove they are up to the challenge.
Louisiana attorneys usually have a steady case load. If you live in Louisiana, you know there is a large amount of litigation. Just drive down the highway and you will see attorney billboards one after another and sometimes on both sides. With that being said, you want to speak with your potential lawyer and find out how busy their case load is. You don’t want to wait for months before they can speak with you about your case upon you retaining and paying them. They could be in the midst of a month-long case with no breathing room or time to draft a petition for you. It’s important to find out a time-frame for when your Louisiana attorney will be able to assist with your legal needs.
Attorney price is low on the list for “How to choose an attorney in Louisiana,” because it’s better to pay more and get the job right – sometimes. Attorneys charge hourly fees, flat fees and contingent fees and you need to know how each of them work before signing the contract. Hourly fees are self-explanatory: you pay the set hourly price that your attorney charges. There’s a small caveat – you need to get an estimate from them as to how many hours your legal issue will take. Flat fees are when an attorney charges a set price no matter how long the legal work takes. Many law firms are moving towards flat fees because all parties know how much the legal services will cost and there are no surprises. Contingent fees are prevalent on personal injury and workers’ compensation cases where the attorneys usually only get paid if they get a settlement for you.
You and your attorney must mesh well. You don’t have to have similar personalities, but you need to be able to speak with them and get along with them as professionals. You may not want an aggressive attorney, especially if you’re more laid back. It helps to speak with them in person to determine compatibility. You and your attorney are essentially a team and must work together to get the best outcome. If you constantly clash with your attorney, your case could suffer and the experience will be worse than it needs to be.
You can find information on every business these days, including lawyers. Google your potential lawyer and read what other clients have said about them. Keep in mind that often only unhappy clients write reviews and that opposing parties will sometimes leave negative reviews to harm an attorney that won a case against them. Take it all with a grain of salt, but do read as many lawyer reviews as you can. Ask around the community about the lawyer you’re contemplating hiring and you can learn a lot. If an attorney takes a large number of cases in a community, there likely be people you know who have hired them in the past. This is a wealth of information that you should find out before hiring an attorney in Louisiana.
A lawyer can be conflicted out of taking your case. What that means is they may have some connection to your legal issue that disallows them to take your case. There are many reasons why an attorney would not be able to take a case due to conflicts, so you must speak with them before going further to make sure they can actually be retained in your legal matter.
Follow Your Gut
Lastly, you must follow your gut while choosing an attorney in Louisiana. This is something that can’t be quantified or measured – you have to go with how you feel. If you don’t feel comfortable when speaking with them, they may not be the right attorney for you. Choosing an attorney to represent you in a legal matter is a huge undertaking and should not be taken lightly.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice. Please speak with an attorney if you have legal questions or need legal assistance as this blog post does not constitute legal advice.