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Finding a Lawyer

You do not have to have an urgent legal problem before you seek an attorney.  Urgency can interfere with shopping for a lawyer who is a good fit for you and for your legal needs.  Shouldn't you shop?  Aren't you going to place your trust in the attorney to represent your interests and resolve your problems?  Many people have their first conversation with a lawyer while telling about their immediate problem.  By the time they are through, they are reluctant to say they want to go home and think about it.  You can hire the first person you meet and it might work out well. But, there is nothing wrong with interviewing more than one lawyer and sleeping on the decision.  Get-acquainted consultations can be very useful.  Be clear with the lawyer that is what you intend when scheduling.  You will sleep better in the midst of your legal crisis if you trust the lawyer handling it.

Where do you start? Word of mouth is probably the most significant means of finding a lawyer. Ask who your friends or family members use and ask how they feel about the lawyer or law firm.  Yellow pages advertisements are a good way to find names, areas of practice and particularly who is located near you.  Lawyer referral services are available in most counties.  They may suggest the name or names of attorneys who deal with the kind of problem you are having.  If you are low income and have civil legal issues, you may want to start with a call to CLEAR to see if you qualify for legal assistance.  If you are low income and have a criminal problem, you may qualify for the appointment of a public defender and will be advised of that right at arrest.

Attorneys often limit their individual practice on one or just a few areas of law.  Specialties are not formally recognized by the bar.  However, an attorney that limits their practice to a particular area of the law, may be more knowledgeable about that area than one who does not.  This may save time, which could lower costs, but may also result in higher billing rates.  If you have different legal needs over time, that attorney may not be best suited to those issues.  There is nothing wrong with employing different lawyers or firms for different problems.  Or, you may prefer a general practice attorney or a firm which has a variety of practice areas.  Part of the hiring conversation should be about what the lawyers knowledge and experience are with your problem area and what other areas of expertise they have and how they would propose to assist you if you had a need outside their expertise.

As part of your preparation, you may want to check with the Washington State Bar Association to see that they attorney is licensed and has no disciplinary action pending against them which might affect their ability to represent you.   You might also consult private on-line ratings of lawyers.

Look for a person who not only can handle the work, but one whom you trust and feel comfortable working with.

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By: editor1
Last Updated: January 26, 2012 - 1:37pm

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