Cases can be won or lost depending on what type of lawyer you have. Not all lawyers are as ethical or competent as others. Knowing how to spot a good lawyer or a bad one is key. Keep on the lookout for red flags, trust your gut and use the information below.
An attorney’s work habits, just like any other professionals are key to knowing who you are getting involved with.
Unreturned Phone Calls
If a lawyer doesn’t return phone calls, it can mean he is disorganized, or worse, doesn’t care enough to keep contact with you. Find someone who keeps the communication going both ways.
Missed deadlines can be an indicator of a bigger problem. A missed deadline can mean incompetence or a general lack of interest in your case.
A lawyer who is rude or difficult to work with can be a huge stressor on top of the stress of your case. Find a lawyer who is easy to communicate with and handles your case professionally.
A lawyer’s office is his temple. It’s how he makes his living and is usually one of the first things his client sees. If a law office is dirty or messy, this can be a sign of other issues.
Unkempt, Disorderly Office
Disorganization goes against everything a lawyer needs to be successful. Your case must be presented accurately and an organized work environment helps this happen. Some people thrive in chaotic situations, but important documents can get lost on a messy desk.
Stacks of Unfiled Papers or Unopened Mail
Stacks of files or unopened mail can mean two things, a laissez-faire attitude towards cases, or a lack of staff to support the attorney. These are both huge red flags.
A lawyer’s billing practices can also raise red flags. Below are a few billing practices to watch.
Overbilling or Excessive Billing
Overbilling is a big no-no in the legal profession. An attorney should not be padding his hours, rather he should bill you for the time he takes to work on your case. No more, no less.
Your legal bill should be clear and concise, easy to read and should tell you exactly what happened and how long it took. If a phone call was made for example, it should say who made the call and how long they were on the phone.
As with any business agreement, watch out for hidden fees that weren’t disclosed at the onset of the relationship.
Following these tips is not a surefire way to know you have a good attorney, but they will help you determine if you want to enter a professional relationship with this person. There are many qualified lawyers all over the place, make sure you avoid the small number of lawyers who may be unqualified or unfit for your legal needs.