Sunday, April 4, 2010

What To Look For When Selecting A San Diego Attorney

Finding an attorney in San Diego who can efficiently help with your specific legal problem may not be easy. Don't expect to find a good attorney by simply looking in the yellow pages or calling a phone number out of a newspaper ad. You need more information to make a good judgment.

Attorney Websites And Online Lawyer Directories

The internet offers many online directories and almost each attorney has his own website. Online research can give you valuable information about the lawyer's expertise, experience, education, and sometimes even her fees.

What you don't get from online source, however, is insight into the attorney's willingness to take time to carefully listen and explain the legal matter to you, or how aggressively she or he will stand up for your defense.

Finding A San Diego Attorney Using Attorney Referral Services

Attorney referral services are another source of information. Alas, the quality of attorney referral services widely varies, although these services need approval by the state bar association. Good lawyer referral services check their attorneys carefully and only list those with specific qualifications and experience. Before you select an attorney from a lawyer referral service, try to find out how their attorneys are screened before they get listed.

Finding A San Diego Attorney By Personal Referral

One approach is to talk to friends, family, neighbors or colleagues in San Diego who have experienced a similar legal problem.

If you have a business claim, speak to your banker, accountant or insurance agent. If you are going through a divorce you may find a good San Diego attorney by contacting other women or men. Ask them who their attorneys were and how they liked them. If you talk to people who went through a similar legal case, chances are you will find a good lead, but make sure your attorney will have the expertise you need.

Also beware of making a decision solely based on a recommendation! Don't decide which San Diego attorney you hire before you have met her, have discussed your case and feel comfortable with that person.

Other Sources For Finding An Attorney

Some other good sources to find possible candidates are your chamber of commerce, or associations and nonprofit groups interested in the subject matter that underlies your lawsuit.

Hiring A San Diego Attorney Who Specializes In Your Legal Matter

A so-called 'general practitioner' may be less expensive but she might not know enough about your particular legal matter. While most San Diego attorneys are specialized in high demand areas like divorce, DUI or bankruptcy, it might be difficult to find a specialist for less common legal issues like zoning laws, software design issues, or restaurant licensing. A specialist might charge more, but it can be money well spent.

Interviewing Your Prospective Attorney

When you get the names of several good prospects, the next step is to talk to each candidate in person. If you outline your needs in advance, many lawyers will be willing to give you a free initial consultation for 15 minutes or half an hour, so you can ask all your burning questions and get a feeling how working with the attorney may be.

Do You Feel Comfortable With The Attorney's Personality?

During the interview, pay particular attention to the chemistry between you and the attorney. No matter how experienced and well-recommended she comes, if you feel uncomfortable with that person during your initial meeting, you may never achieve an ideal attorney-client relationship. Remember, you should always be completely open and honest when discussing your case with your attorney!

Expertise And Experience Of Your Attorney

Before the meeting, do your homework. Visit the law firm's website and read about the history and the attorney's bio. In the meeting, ask her for references and try to find out how much experience she has in handling cases similar to yours. What settlement agreements did she manage to get in previous cases?

Communication With Your Attorney

Don't base your decision on 'chemistry' alone! In the interview, also ask the prospective attorney how you will be able to contact her and how long it will take her to get back to you. Complaints about lawyers to regulatory groups are mainly about the lack of timely communication. If every time you have an issue you have to wait several days before you can talk to your attorney or she returns your call, you will lose precious time.

Select an attorney who gives you the impression that she or he will work hard on your behalf and follow through promptly on all tasks.

San Diego Attorney Fees

Make sure you ask for an estimate that clearly states the fee and the payment structure before you sign an retainer agreement. At the established rates of $150 to over $350 an hour you may quickly empty your bank account, if you don't get an idea upfront how much of your attorney's time is necessary and which fees are involved.

What Else Do You Need To Consider When Selecting A San Diego Attorney?

Make sure your attorney will have the expertise that is needed for your particular case. Don't select a friend's divorce attorney, even when she comes highly recommended, if you have a case for a personal injury attorney.

In case you are planning on representing yourself or drafting your own agreements and use the attorney only for legal advice, make sure she is open to that kind of arrangement or willing to review your drafts.

Lastly, make sure that the attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with her or his bar association.

During your search for a San Diego attorney, keep in mind that each attorney has taken a pledge to communicate regularly with you, provide a preliminary estimate of the time and cost involved, and give you a clear and fair written agreement that spells out how she will handle your legal matter and how you will be charged!

If you live in San Diego and have a complex legal issue, or a legal case with a big amount of money at stakes, you need strategic advice and sophisticated technical skills of a good San Diego Attorney.


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