When searching for the right attorney, experienced attorneys can assist clients in solving a variety of financial (and many that are more emotional than financial) questions.
However, there is one type of inquiry that we cannot answer: legal questions about things like filing for bankruptcy, establishing an estate plan, or pursuing a legal dispute. So, regardless of how much we enjoy lawyer jokes, we require them occasionally. But where and how can you look for a decent one?
Your employer is an excellent place to start. Inquire if your company provides reduced legal services through a specialized program or a more broad EAP (employee assistance program). While you may not be able to find Johnny Cochran this way, it can be a fantastic resource for getting basic legal documents like a will and power of attorney done for a fair fee or determining whether it’s worth taking the next step in a more complex circumstance. For example, suppose your EAP provides a free 30-minute legal consultation, in that case, you can utilize that time to determine whether bankruptcy is a good option for you or whether you have a valid legal claim to file a lawsuit before engaging a more expensive attorney. On a site like lawhelp.org, you can also acquire free legal information and learn about pro bono legal services.
When you’re ready to hire an attorney, the next step is to seek referrals from family members, friends, and other professionals you work with. Lawyers you or someone you know can be helpful even if they practice in a different area because lawyers tend to know other lawyers and, more importantly, which ones are the most trustworthy. CPAs and financial advisors are in the same boat. After all, because so much of their income originates from recommendations, building these relationships is critical to their professional success.
You can also use the lawyer recommendation service your state or local bar association provides. At the very least, this will supply you with local attorneys who practice in the region you require. The American Bar Association’s national Lawyer Referral Directory can help you identify your local site.
Once you’ve identified several candidates, don’t just hire the first one on the list. Choosing the wrong attorney can cost you a lot of time and money, so you should interview at least three.