Lawyers are a part of our daily lives. We read books about them, we watch movies about them - good and bad - and we perhaps know a few as friends or family. And yet, most people will have little contact with the legal system during their lifetime. When they finally need a lawyer, be it a criminal attorney to handle their defense, or a civil attorney to sue on their behalf or defend them against lawsuits brought by others, they don't know where to go. They have little experience to guide them on how to select - and keep - the right attorney for their needs.
How to Find and Keep a Good Lawyer attempts to demystify this process by providing readers with guidance as they navigate their search for the right attorney. In the first chapter, tips are offered on what qualities and characteristics the client should look for when interviewing a prospective attorney. The search can be overwhelming, but the client has the ultimate say in hiring and selecting an attorney. More often than not, clients are swept away by the attorney's promises and boasting. They might hire the first attorney they interview because they don't know what to look for and are intimidated by the legal process in general. Clients observe negative traits in attorneys, such as failing to return phone calls, but believe in time, the attorney will improve or offer better service. In reality, the first meeting is the best time to make a good impression, and if the client is unhappy with the services provided by the attorney in the beginning, it seldom improves over time. If anything, the services could get worse and jeopardize the case. Once the client has found a good attorney, the next chapter offers tips on what to look for in the written retainer agreement, the terms of the attorney's service, and how those services might be compensated. There is no single rule and charges can vary from hourly to project. Some types of cases lend themselves to contingency fees, which means the client doesn't have to lay out any cash and the attorney is only compensated upon success. A client needs to be aware of how he or she is being charged for attorney's fees, but costs cannot be ignored either. Clients are often surprised after receiving the attorney's first billing and express dismay that they are charged for telephone conversations, friendly as they may seem. There are other costs that can drive up the expense of litigation, way up, and the client needs to be aware of them. This book also explores the duties imposed on the client as well. A client cannot simply hire an attorney and then bury his or her head in the sand. The client has to be part of the process. The attorney needs the client's input and cooperation. If the client fails to cooperate, the results can be disasterous, leading to the loss of a meritorious case. There is more than one way to resolve a case and this book discusses those options, including mediation, arbitration, and a trial in a court of law. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and should be considered by the client in choosing the best path to winning the case. Of course, in any relationship, problems are bound to arise and the client needs to know how to deal with them. Some problems are minor and can be corrected with a frank conversation. Others threaten the success of your lawsuit and may require a termination of the attorney-client relationship. This book discusses how to break up with a bad attorney. How to Find and Keep a Good Attorney is written from the unique perspective of an appellate attorney, Donna Bader, who has spent over thirty-five years advising trial attorneys on how to keep a judgment or reverse a court's bad decision. In those years, she has seen and heard it all. She has heard the complaints of clients at the end of the case, and has compiled those complaints and her observations into a book that will help those seeking effective representation.