Finding an Attorney You Can Trust

When it comes time to hire an attorney, most people have absolutely no idea where to begin. Of course you want to find the most affordable legal representation possible but then again you also want to make sure you hire an attorney with experience and knowledge about your specific kind of case. Fortunately, when it comes to finding great legal representation there are a couple of methods which will help you find the best possible attorney for you at a rate you can afford.

How Do You Determine Which an Attorney is Right for You?

This is an easy one. Simply meet with the attorney. You are going to have to do this anyway if the attorney is willing to take on your case. Meeting not only helps the attorney learn important facts about your case, but it also gives you a chance to see whether or not you feel comfortable when talking with the attorney. You will have to communicate with this person on a pretty regular basis. Do you feel confident this is someone you can fully trust to handle your case? Does the attorney appear to show sincere interest in your case? You must be able to answer both of the questions squarely before deciding if the attorney is a good fit.

How Do I Actually Find a Good Attorney?

One of the very best ways to find a good attorney is by approaching an attorney you already know. If you do not already know any attorneys, ask your friends and family for the names of some attorneys they know and trust. Another way to find an attorney is by approaching your State Bar.

You may also be able to find out other valuable information about an attorney by finding what organizations an attorney is part of. Some organizations require members to meet certain standards of achievement in their practice. Approach your State bar and ask for a list of reputable organizations where you may be able to research an attorney’s background and experience.

When Meeting With an Attorney, What Questions Should I Ask?

Firstly, you should start off by asking the attorney what areas of law he or she specializes in. It might not be such a great idea to hire even a reputable bankruptcy lawyer who only minors in personal injury if your case happens to be a personal injury case.

Get a Feel for an Experience Level.

Ask the attorney whether or not he or she has handled many cases like yours before. If so, then ask how many. Do not feel bad about asking these kinds of questions. You want to find an attorney you can trust, right? A good attorney always welcomes these kinds of questions. After all, trust is the key to forming an effective attorney-client relationship.

It’s all about the TES Factor.

When you are looking for the right attorney, just remember the TES factor; Trust, Experience and Sincerity. Find an attorney who you feel you can completely trust and who has a proven track record of experience with you kind of case. Make sure that the attorney is sincere, meaning that he or she actually shows genuine concern about your case. Generally, if you are able to find an attorney with great TES, you are probably in pretty good hands. Well, let’s not forget about pricing! Maybe you should look for good TESP. “P” meaning pricing, of course, but usually excellent attorneys are definitely worth a little more.

Reduce Attorney Fees – 7 Strategies That Can Save You a Bundle

No one likes to pay excessive legal fees, but few clients know the simple steps they can take to reduce attorney fees. This article contains seven strategies that can save you a bundle in attorney fees.

1. Avoid Unscrupulous Attorneys. Most attorneys are dedicated professionals who take great pride in their work and serving the best interests of their clients. Unfortunately, there are some really rotten ones out there that give the legal profession a bad reputation. Before hiring an attorney, learn about their reputation in the legal community. Avoid unscrupulous attorneys who have a reputation for doing unnecessary work, transforming simple legal procedures into complex ordeals, and making every dispute exceptionally acrimonious – all designed to maximize the attorney fees.

2. Understand How Attorneys Charge. Attorneys typically charge clients an hourly rate, flat fee or contingency fee. The type of case will largely determine how the attorney will charge for their services. For example, an attorney representing a personal injury victim in an auto accident case will typically charge a contingency fee (i. e., one-third of the recovery). An attorney representing an individual in a divorce or criminal proceedings may charge a flat fee. A business law attorney will charge a corporate client an hourly fee to negotiate a contractual relationship and draft the agreement.

3. Initial Consultation. The initial consultation is the place to explain your legal problem to the attorney, state your desired outcome, and ask five specific questions that will help reduce attorney fees. First, what is the attorney’s initial assessment of your problem? Second, what steps would the attorney recommend to achieve your desired outcome? Next, how does the attorney charge for representation in your type of case? Fourth, what action can the client take to control the cost of legal services? Finally, if you retain the lawyer, what is the next step in the process?

4. Get A Second Opinion. If you are uncomfortable with one attorney’s assessment of your case or have misgivings about their representation, seek a second opinion. There are many different ways to approach a legal problem. It is important that you establish a comfort zone when you retain an attorney and have confidence in their approach to your legal problem.

5. Understand The Attorney-Client Agreement. The Attorney-Client Agreement is the legal contract that defines the relationship between the attorney and client including a thorough explanation of how the attorney will be compensated and charge for expenses related to your case. For example, if the Agreement states that the attorney will charge an hourly fee, understand that every minute that the attorney spends working on your case (telephone calls, reviewing letters and emails, client meetings, etc.) will later show up on your statement.

6. Review Your Statement. Most attorneys prepare itemized statements that state how the attorney’s time was spent and provides an explanation of the expenses. Be sure to review every statement for accuracy. If you don’t understand a charge, ask for an explanation.

7. Don’t Be Unreasonable. Unreasonable clients should expect to charged accordingly. One of the most important ways for a client to reduce attorney fees is by making informed and reasonable decisions about the management of their case.

Armed with these seven simple strategies, you’ll be in a strong position to level the playing field when you hire an attorney and save a bundle on attorney fees.

What You Must Know About Choosing a Bankruptcy Attorney

Before consulting with a bankruptcy attorney, it will be helpful to know that there are four main types of bankruptcy: Chapters 7, 11, 12 and 13. Only two, chapters 7 and 13 are personal bankruptcy options. The remaining two forms of bankruptcy, chapters 11 and 12 and for corporations and agricultural purposes respectively.

The first step you will want to take when choosing a bankruptcy attorney in the Kansas City area is finding out the practice areas of your attorney. Some attorneys practice specifically in bankruptcy related matters. Other attorneys have a more general practice where they may cover several practice areas with bankruptcy being one of many.

Other attorneys may have a general practice but they want to try bankruptcy out because of the recent developments in the economy. If this is the case and the attorney is a solo-practitioner, you will want to make sure that you ask if the attorney has a reference source by which he or she is able to get help concerning the things he or she may not know. The practice of bankruptcy law is extremely intricate and sometimes the slightest mistake can be the difference between whether the debtor receives a discharge or a dismissed case.

The next thing a potential debtor will want to know is which type of bankruptcy law the attorney practices. Again, there are some attorneys who concentrate specifically on chapter 7 bankruptcy work. Those attorneys may choose to concentrate on chapter 7 work because it is less complicated than the chapter 13 work. Generally, chapter 7 debtors will not have substantial assets and they are procedurally less tenuous than a chapter 13. This does not mean that there are Kansas City Bankruptcy attorneys, who concentrate on Chapter 7 bankruptcy law, who take chapter 13 cases.

Another valuable piece of information that a potential bankruptcy debtor will want to discover is whether the attorney will appear with the debtor at the meeting of creditors. Once the paper work has been completed and the documents have been filed with the Bankruptcy Court, the Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri will schedule what is called a 341 meeting.

This meeting is also referred to as “The First Meeting of Creditors.” It will be the first opportunity for the debtor to meet with the bankruptcy trustee and to confront any creditors who may want to prevent the bankruptcy from occurring. The attorney may not be privy to anyone wanting to challenge the discharge of the debtor before the meeting of creditors.

If the debtor’s attorney is not able to appear at the meeting of creditors, a replacement attorney will need to be selected. The debtor not having an attorney is generally not a good idea because the trustee may want certain documents sent to the trustee’s office within a short period of time or the trustee may have more specific questions that the debtor may not be able to answer.

If this were to happen, the debtor would need an attorney there who has a copy of the bankruptcy petition. Generally when a debtor attempts to conduct a meeting of creditors without the presence of an attorney, the debtor will not have all the information to adequately satisfy the inquiries of the trustee.

The next thing that a potential debtor will want to know when potentially choosing a Kansas City bankruptcy attorney is what is included in the attorney fee. This may vary from attorney to attorney. Generally, the attorney fee will be a flat fee that will include the bankruptcy petition filing fee. Currently, this fee is $300. However, the list of attorney duties could vary. Some attorneys will cover everything from start to finish with the fee that is paid.

Other attorneys may charge an additional fee if the petition has to be amended or if the trustee requires meetings outside of the meeting of creditors. Generally these fees will be covered in the contract for legal representation. If they are not, the potential debtor will want to discuss these issues with the potential Kansas City bankruptcy attorney.

These are a few things that a potential debtor will want to investigate when choosing a Kansas City bankruptcy attorney. The choice of an attorney is an important one and it should not be based solely on advertisement alone.

How Do People Select Rhode Island Divorce Attorneys to Interview?

Let’s face it. Rhode Island lawyers and lawyers in general are officers of the court. We’re supposed to be servants of the public. Yet at the same same we’re independent practitioners and we we’ve got a job to do and money to bring in through our private practice or we don’t survive.

It’s no wonder Rhode Island Lawyers are viewed with skepticism and even cynicism, especially when it’s time to hire one and you’re not sure who to hire or what to do. Here you are, you have a legal issue that needs to be addressed and you take the time to try to identify an attorney who will meet your needs.

It’s easy for questions to surface as to whether the attorney you’re interviewing is looking out for your best interests or simply looking out for his or her own interests and making some money to put food on his or her own table. It is, in fact, appropriate for you to question the attorney’s motives. The best time to do that is at the time you interview the attorney.

You should know that when you set up an appointment to see an attorney, YOU are interviewing the attorney just as much as the attorney is interviewing YOU.

So how do people generally go about choosing an attorney?

1) A referral from a friend or family member.

This is a good source of referrals for the attorney, but is the attorney right for YOU? What did the attorney do for that friend or family member who made the referral? Did the attorney settle a personal injury case? That’s not going to do you much good if you need someone for a family law matter. If your referral isn’t to an attorney that regularly practices in the area of law you need and it isn’t from a person who used those same type of family law services then the referral is “empty”, in other words a referral should be better than just hunting around in the yellow pages. It should provide some valuable reassurance that the attorney you’ve been referred to, can and has already provided valuable an competent services to the person who is making the referral to you, and that those services are in the area of law that you need help with. Without that criteria, the referral is “Empty”.

2) An advertisement in the yellow pages.

This is of course an even less effective way to select a suitable lawyer to interview than the referral from a friend or family member who did not use the attorney for the same type of legal services that you are in need of. When you just select attorneys out of the yellow pages you will most likely do like everyone else does. You select the attorney based on the advertisement itself, particularly its size and its wording. Unfortunately neither of these are indicators that the attorney is competent or will serve you well in the area of law you are in need of. Imagine that you are in need of a divorce attorney and you select the attorney’s advertisement that is the largest and includes the words “Estates”, “Personal Injury Cases”, and Divorces, etc… with 15 years in practice”.

First, that advertisement probably cost quite a bit since even small advertisements in the yellow pages run $3,000 to $5,000 a year. From there you can take a guess who has to pay for just that single marketing ad. That’s right…that attorney’s clients. You can almost certainly plan to pay more for an attorney with a decent sized yellow page ad. Conversely, that attorney might be worth it if you select just the right one.

Second, the “15 years in practice” tells you one of two things. Either that you are going to pay more for those years of experience or that he has been doing “something” law-related for 15 years. I know attorneys who have been in practice for 20 years and have handled perhaps 10 divorces in that amount of time. By the same token the advertisement above wouldn’t seem as impressive if you knew that the attorney only handled 4 divorces within his 15 years of practice. That might not want to be the attorney you want to represent you if you need a Rhode Island Divorce attorney and complex divorce issues regarding pensions, alimony and tax consequences on the sale of a home come into play.

3) Search for the kind of Rhode Island lawyer you want on the internet.

This is becoming more and more the method of searching for attorneys in the technoliterate sector of society. Those who choose this method of searching can go to Google.com or another search site of their choice and type in the various terms they want to search on. Searchers can also vary their search terms if the results do not suit them. The main benefit to searching the internet to find Rhode Island attorneys to interview is the third party nature of the ranking system. In a search system such as Google.com, the primary listings are ranked by criteria that are not controlled by attorney. It is Google’s system that analyzes the attorney’s websites and/or pages and determines from there whether the attorney’s website matches the criteria you are looking for. In this way you are getting an unbiased selection of attorney websites to review.

Secondarily, if you are searching on the internet for an attorney, you will know if the attorney has a website or not. This will at least give you some indication that the attorney has kept up with technology. If he or she has done so then if it is important to be able to communicate with your attorney by email this may be a factor in your decision to interview that particular attorney. The information on the website of the attorney is also likely to be the most focused regarding what his or her primary practice areas. In some instances the attorney’s website will provide the most valuable information about the attorney in order to decide which attorneys to interview.

Going Legal – How to Find & Work With an Attorney For Your Small Business

Deciding Whether to Go Legal

As a former full-time practicing attorney and now a small business owner, I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to the legal issues a business owner may face. This provides me with the distinct advantage of knowing when to call in an attorney for assistance, as opposed to using another professional, such as an accountant, financial planner, insurance agent, or business coach — or perhaps handling the matter myself. In addition, my background helps me to select an attorney that is the best fit for the business matter at hand. Many entrepreneurs have had limited experience deciding whether a matter needs legal attention and, if so, what type of attorney to retain, how to find the best match, and how to maximize the attorney-client relationship. As an entrepreneur, it is imperative that you understand when to “go legal,” and if you do, how to find and work with an attorney that is the best fit for your issue.

If you are confused about whether your matter needs legal attention or whether you can handle it yourself, try researching the matter on the American Bar Association’s Self-Help online center. Go to Public Resources, then Legal Help, and then Self-Help. The section is organized by state and is a user-friendly resource for determining whether a matter is complex and needs a legal expert, or whether it is something you can handle yourself.

In addition, a good business coach, especially one with a legal background, is a great sounding board to assist you in determining whether an issue is truly legal in nature, and if so, which type of attorney to retain. You would be surprised how many issues appear legal in nature, but turn out to be business decisions instead. So don’t be hasty when deciding whether to go legal!

Not All Attorneys Are Created Equal

So, assuming you have decided to “go legal” and retain an attorney, which one are you going to call? If you broke your arm, would you make an appointment with an allergist? If you had an ear infection, would you seek the advice of a surgeon? Of course not! Yet, everyday, many entrepreneurs contact and use attorneys to handle matters for their businesses that are completely outside the realm of what that attorney specializes in. Yes, attorneys specialize.

First, there is the main issue of whether your matter is civil or criminal in nature. Generally (and, thankfully!), the average legal matter an entrepreneur will face is a civil matter. Thus, you will be dealing with a civil attorney (hopefully in more ways than one). However, civil law is a huge umbrella. Typical small business matters may include incorporation, intellectual property (trademark, copyright, and patent), contract drafting and enforcement, employment or labor law issues, etc. Thus, look for an attorney that specializes in the area you need help with. Don’t be tempted to use your cousin, who is a residential real estate attorney, to assist you with a complex trademark issue. While this may be tempting in terms of saving money, it may (and often does) cost you more money in the long run if the matter is not handled properly. So match the attorney to the problem, and you are on the right track.

If you are unsure what type of legal issue you are even facing, speak up! Talk to a friend or business colleague that is an attorney, and ask his or her advice on the type of issue you are dealing with. You can also call the local bar association, or do some basic internet research to find out the area of law you are dealing with There are several sites that provide basic legal information for non-attorneys, such as Nola, FindLaw and at the Legal Zoom websites. This background research will arm you with enough terminology and basic knowledge to make the best match with an attorney whose legal practice covers the area of your business issue.

Finding an Attorney

So, now that you know the area of law, how do you find a good lawyer that practices in that area? The same way you find any other professional to assist you with your business. Referrals from friends, family and colleagues are a fantastic way to find a reputable attorney. You can also ask your local chamber of commerce, local law school, and local and state bar associations. Still can’t find an attorney that is a great match? Try Martindale-Hubbell’s Lawyer Locator online at http://www.martindale.com

Money Matters

If you’ve never worked with an attorney before, here are some basics of the legal profession with regard to money matters. Most attorneys charge by the hour, so ask what the hourly rate is, and an estimate of how many hours the matter may take. If the matter is small, or a typical one that the attorney handles often, there may be a flat fee for the entire transaction instead of an hourly rate. Be prepared to pay a fee for the initial consultation, which is standard, but not a hard and fast rule. In some cases, the attorney may require a retainer, which is money that you provide upfront that the attorney works off of as the matter progresses.

One thing to consider is that law firms are typically broken down into partners and associates. Partners are essentially co-owners of the firm, while associates are employees, albeit high level professional ones. Who demands the highest rates? Usually, the partners. Thus, ask yourself if you truly need a partner, or can an experienced associate handle the matter. Do you need the best litigator in the firm? Often times, the best litigator may be an associate that is still active in the courtroom, as opposed to a partner that may be more of a rainmaker bringing in business for the firm.

In some cases, for very small matters or legal research, even a law clerk or paralegal may do. Ask who is the best match, and don’t assume it is always the person whose last name is on the door.

Maximizing the Attorney-Client Relationship

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of accurate, concrete, and timely record keeping and documentation when preparing to work with an attorney, and during the relationship. An attorney will need to go on a fact-finding mission in order to best represent you and your business. Help your attorney do his or her job better by coming to the table with all of your ducks in a row. Be prompt in providing requested information, as often legal timelines are at play. Honesty is also vital when working with an attorney. The best attorney-client relationships are built on mutual trust and, thus, withholding information can make or break your case. An attorney needs all of the facts in order to make tough decisions with you about the best course of action for your business matter.