I wrote earlier about getting the most out of your relationship with your attorney. We talked about establishing trust, candor, loyalty and accountability, among other things. These qualities describe a successful team.
But what about finding the right lawyer in the first place?
A little planning and investment of time will pay big dividends. You shouldn’t wait for an emergency to find a doctor. The same thought works for finding a lawyer. I recommend a three-step approach:
Here it’s a good idea to remember that people don’t go to a lawyer to be entertained. The truth is you need a lawyer to handle a serious matter—no matter what it is. To write your will. To handle your divorce. To form your business. You name it—it’s all serious stuff that isn’t to be taken lightly.
So—first and foremost, put TRUST at a premium, and look for someone you think can be invested with YOUR trust.
You might ask— “Great! How on earth do I start that process?”
The answer: Start with the people and connections in your life that you already trust. In most cases, your friends, family and close business colleagues know someone who knows, or who has worked with, an attorney. Or you know someone who knows someone….and so on.
The most successful lawyer-client relationships develop from a word-of-mouth endorsement and referral. It’s a touchstone of trust.
If your friends, family or business colleagues make a contact for you, or not, it’s important to reach out to your local bar association, law referral service, or related community affinity groups (like single moms or dads, veterans, grief recovery or health assistance groups, religious affiliates, etc.). These connections widen the scope of your attorney search and also help to confirm the credentials of any attorney recommended by a personal connection.
Finally, even if you have now identified an attorney or two, get online and let the internet take you surfing on social media to check out your current possibilities and identify a couple more. Check the social media “credentials” of the attorneys you have already identified by checking their website and skip into any of dozens of lawyer directories to see if there may be some other attorneys that fit. Services like AVVO are ideal. Cross-referencing into other databases like our very own Justice For Me website, also give you a sense of the attorney’s activity and credibility in the marketplace.
In the end, be sure to develop a shortlist of at least two lawyers—and talk to them both, at least briefly. This selection is too important to go on an initial impulse. Then make your pick and begin the process of building a successful team.
Next up, what are your questions at the first meeting with an attorney?