Asking friends and family for a referral is one of the best ways to find attorneys to contact. Their personal experiences with the attorney can help you decide whether that attorney is a good fit for you. Ask them if the attorney was easy to talk to, whether he or she met deadlines, whether it was easy to get a hold of the attorney, and whether the attorney kept the client well informed about the status of his or her case.
When you decide to contact a lawyer’s office initially, understand that legal advice isn’t always free. The attorney is highly unlikely to talk to you over the phone and answer all of your questions right then. Instead, expect to set up an initial consultation. So be prepared to ask if there is a fee for this consultation.
If your initial contact with the office is made with a call outside of business hours and you leave a voice mail, be sure to leave your number, your full name, and a short statement that you are interested in getting legal representation. You may leave a legal assistant confused if you just say “Hey, It’s John. Call me at. . . .” They don’t know if you are a friend of an attorney wanting to make a social call or if you are a current client and they need to try to match up your number with the number of several current clients named John.
During an initial consultation, be sure to understand what and how you will be billed if you hire that attorney. Money can be an uncomfortable topic for many to talk about, but it’s an important one. Ask if the attorney will need to be paid by a contingency fee, a flat fee, or a hourly fee. Some cases are more conducive to a contingency fee and others to a flat or hourly fee. Additionally, determine how much you will have to pay up front and how billing will occur if work proceeds beyond this initial amount.
If you have decided to hire an attorney, you may want to evaluate your communication with his or her office. Most attorneys paid with an hourly fee are happy to listen to your feelings and frustrations. Especially in the area of family law, emotions run high and sometimes it’s good to express these emotions to your attorney so that they know exactly where you are coming from. However, if cost is a concern for you, then you may want to limit emotional venting to your attorney. It’s probably less expensive to speak with a therapist or even a good friend. And although your attorney may empathize with you and be a great listener, a therapist has the tools to help you process and cope with your feelings better.
Additionally, when calling a law firm once you’ve become a client, take a moment to think of what your questions are and what you want to discuss. Frustrations about the case may make you lose your train of thought while speaking with your attorney. If you write out your questions in bullet points, your emotions or the complicated facts of your case won’t get you off track. This will result in a more productive use of the attorney’s time, but more importantly, your time.
Chante Prox is a family law attorney and mediator practicing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area @ www.barnesproxlaw.com or follow her on twitter @ https://twitter.com/chanteprox for her sometimes random thoughts and whatnots.
Disclaimer: This information should not be considered as legal advice. Decisions should be based on consultation with a licensed attorney. This blog is for informative purposes only.