IN YOUR PRIME: How to find the right lawyer

It may not be possible to predict every instance in which you could use some legal advice, but it’s fair to assume that such a situation will present itself at some point. Knowing where to look for legal advice can provide peace of mind and help potentially difficult situations become much more manageable.

Finding a trustworthy lawyer is no small task, especially for people who have never had to do so in the past. Opening the yellow pages or looking online for a local lawyer will likely turn up hundreds of results. Sifting through those results can be intimidating and time-consuming. In recognition of the importance of finding the right legal representation, the American Bar Association¨ offers these tips to people on the lookout for a lawyer.

Ask someone you trust. The ABA¨ notes that seeking recommendations from friends, relatives or business associates can be a great way to find a reliable lawyer. Individuals you know who live nearby may offer advice on who to hire or even lawyers to avoid based on their own experiences, so don’t hesitate to ask around. However, the ABA¨ points out that no two legal cases are the same, so a lawyer who was right for a loved one’s case may not necessarily be perfect for you.

Contact your local bar association. According to the ABA¨, bar associations in most communities will make referrals according to specific areas of law. This can ensure people without much or any experience hiring lawyers find one with the right experience and practice concentration. Local referral services also may help, and the ABA¨ notes that many, though not all, have competency requirements for lawyers who wish to be referred. When speaking with a referral service, ask if they have such requirements in place and how frequently they reevaluate lawyers they refer.

Recognize what you need. Lawyers specialize in many different areas of the law, so finding the right lawyer is not a one-size-fits-all venture. Someone who needs help with estate planning will be looking for a different lawyer than someone seeking a personal injury specialist. Individuals are urged to identify which services they need and then narrow their search to include only those lawyers who specialize in providing them.

Consider your comfort level. The ABA¨ urges individuals to make their own comfort levels with a given lawyer a top priority. Lawyers serve as their clients’ representation, so their clients must be comfortable telling them all they need to know to represent them to the best of their abilities.

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