Steps to take before you pick the right lawyer.
How do I pick the right lawyer for my case? The short answer is that it will take a little prep from you upfront. But if you do your homework early in the process, then it will payoff in the long run. Let me explain.
Lawyers like to help people. In fact, the best part of being a lawyer is helping people fix a legal problem. It feels good to take that burden and stress away from a client’s life.
But lawyers also like to make money. And unfortunately, there are some lawyers who like to make money more than they like to help people. This can cause real problems for your case. And it can ruin your budget.
For these reasons, I want to show you how to pick the right lawyer for your case.
What kind of lawyer do I need?
This is the first question you should ask. It will save you a ton of time and help you focus your lawyer search. For instance, I handle car-wreck cases and criminal cases. But I do not handle real-estate or tax cases.
Consequently, if you are having trouble buying a house or problems with the IRS, then I cannot help. You will need to search for a tax lawyer or a real-estate lawyer. This is because tax and real-estate law are different areas or fields. So you will need a lawyer with experience in the area or field you are dealing with.
To help you find the right lawyer, ask yourself this starter question: “What is the legal problem I need help with?” Are you going through a divorce? Did police arrest your for DWI? Do you need a Will? Or is it something else?
The answer to this question will help you cut through the clutter. It will also help you focus your search for lawyers that handle your type of case.
What are the most common types of lawyers people search for in San Antonio?
- Criminal Law Attorneys: These lawyers help you if police arrest your for crimes like Theft, Gun possession, Human Smuggling, or Probation Violations.
- Car Accident Attorneys: If someone crashes into your car and you are hurt, then a car-wreck attorney will help you settle your case with the other driver’s insurance company. They can also help you with DWI car crashes. If the insurance company does not want to pay for your injuries, then your attorney can sue them.
- Family Law Attorney: These attorneys help you with a divorce, a custody fight, or if you want to change your child-support payments.
- Probate Attorney: Probate lawyers write Wills. They also help you settle the estate of a loved one who passed on.
- Eviction Attorney: You may need an eviction lawyer if you want to kick out a tenant who is not paying the rent. Conversely, you may need this type of lawyer to fight the eviction.
How should I search for for the right attorney?
The easiest way is to use the search terms above and do a Google or Bing search. As an example, if you need a criminal lawyer, then search for “criminal lawyer San Antonio.” Or you can do a search for “criminal lawyer near me.”
After that, read the online reviews. This is a key part of your search. When you read the reviews, look for patterns in the reviews. Good lawyers will have positive patterns and bad lawyers will have negative patterns. Let me show you how this works.
In my experience, good lawyers have good habits and bad lawyers have bad habits. As an example, good lawyers will return your phone calls. They will keep you updated on the status of your case. They will show up to court. And they will be prepared.
In contrast, bad lawyers will do the opposite. They won’t return your phone calls. You will be in the dark about your case. And they often do not show up to court. Or they will show up unprepared.
These tell-tale signs will help you weed out the bad lawyers. And it will bring you one step closer to picking the right attorney for your case. The bottom line is to look for these red flags when you read the online reviews.
How should I prepare for my meeting with the attorney?
There is no right or wrong way to get ready for your meeting. This is because every case is different. And so is every client. Nevertheless, you should check three boxes during your prep and attorney search journey.
A. Gather Information.
The main goal of an attorney consult is to get an honest review of your case. To do this, bring the paperwork and your case number to the meeting. The paperwork can be anything. For example, it could be a divorce petition, a crash report, or a subpoena. In short, the paperwork can be anything related to the reason you want to hire a lawyer.
If you don’t know your case number or don’t have any paperwork, then that is fine too. You can always search for your case number online. Bexar county has a link for criminal and civil cases. You can type in your name, and search for your case number.
Similarly, if you are in a car accident, you can get a copy of your crash report online. This report is important in car wreck cases because the lawyer will use it to tell you how strong or weak your case is. So if you can get this information before the meeting, the lawyer should be able to give you crisp advice.
B. Meet with several lawyers before you hire one. (Especially on big cases.)
You will want to talk to a few lawyers before you pick the best one for your case. This is another key point that you should follow. Every lawyer has his or her own style. But what you are looking for are three things.
First, look for a lawyer you can trust. That is to say, look for a lawyer that answers your questions directly and honestly. A good lawyer will help you by giving you the information you need about your case. This means the lawyer will give you the pros and cons of your case. And the lawyer will give you a recommendation on how to proceed. Equally important, a good lawyer’s answers will show you that he or she has the experience to handle your case.
In contrast, a bad lawyer will not answer your questions directly. A bad lawyer will often try to “sell” you on hiring him or her. And the bad lawyer will focus on the fee or retainer. This is another red flag to watch out for.
Second, do you get along with the attorney? The lawyer may have great reviews. He or she may be the best lawyer in town. But if you don’t get along with each other, then the attorney-client relationship won’t work. It’s like a bad marriage. It’s best to avoid this problem all together.
Finally, compare the answers from the different attorneys. Legal cases often turn on the lawyer’s judgment. So compare how each lawyer saw the case and why they reached that conclusion. From there, you can take the next step and compare the fees.
C. Find the market rate for your case.
The good news is if you met with several lawyers, then you should have a ball park of what your case will cost you. The different quotes will tell you the market-rate for your case. At this point, you should be ready to decide.
Are the attorney-client meetings confidential?
Yes. Tex. R. Evid. 503 tells lawyers to keep all client information confidential. This allows you to speak freely with the attorney about your case. But there are some exceptions.
The biggest one is the crime-fraud rule. A lawyer cannot help you break the law. However, this is almost never a problem. The end result is that your attorney will keep your confidences.
What is the bottom line on how to pick the right lawyer for your case?
Trust your instincts. Stick to your budget. And most important of all, do your research up front before you hire a lawyer to help you with your case. Finally, remember this rule: If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Attorney Genaro R. Cortez. Phone 210-733-7575.
Genaro R. Cortez is a San Antonio Criminal and Personal Injury lawyer with over 20 years of trial experience. If you are hurt in a car wreck or arrested for a crime, then call our office today. All consultations are free and confidential.