There are thousands of lawyers in California and well over a hundred injury lawyers in San Francisco who seem to have a similar education, licensing and specialization in personal injury law and yet the quality of representation and attention that different injured persons receive from different injury lawyers is so different.
So, how do you choose the right attorney for your injury case? Here are six important factors that you should consider when hiring an attorney to represent you in your claims:
1. Your attorney is not overconfident in the outcome of your case. No matter how experienced and seasoned the lawyer is, he cannot and should never be sure of the outcome of your case. Every competent attorney knows that he should never predict the exact outcome of the case, because for obvious reasons legal claims have many elements to them that are inherently unpredictable and affect recovery of damages. There are so many facts and circumstances that might come into play,as the case develops, and the nature of our legal system is such that there is simply no way to know for sure whether you will win or lose and if you win – how much money exactly you will recover from the other side.
A responsible legal professional will assure you that he will do the best he can to represent you as aggressively as possible but he will not make any promises as to how much you will recover and how long exactly the process will take.
2. A good attorney should not act like a pushy salesman. Your attorney shouldn’t shove papers underneath your hand for your signature telling you that “it’s ok and you have nothing to worry about.” Instead, he should explain to you in plain and understandable terms what you are signing, why it is necessary to execute the document, and what the consequences are. The attorney should be educating you about the next steps in your relationship and how the process works. For instance, a good attorney will go over your services contract paragraph by paragraph, making sure that you understand what the scope and the limitations of his representation is.
A good attorney will also advise you that you are free to terminate your agreement at any time and seek alternate counsel and hire a different attorney of your choice at any time.
A good attorney is patient with his clients and makes sure that you have a general understanding of the process, and he doesn’t make you feel unwelcome or like you are wasting his time.
3. A good lawyer is capable of keeping in touch with you in a way that makes you feel that your case gets the attention it requires. An attorney has an ethical duty to communicate with his client effectively and respond to the client’s communication with reasonable promptness. One of the most common complaints reported to the California State Bar by clients is that attorney fail to communicate and return phone calls / e-mails and letters from their clients. Being ignored is a frustrating experience in any setting – professionally, socially and especially when it comes to dealing with a lawyer. Litigation process is stressful enough and raises many questions or concerns in a client as the case develops that need to be addressed promptly. A good attorney is not “too busy” to return your calls and he keeps you informed of the developments of your case.
4. A good attorney will advise you not only how to prosecute your case but whether or not it is worth your time, money, energy and emotions to actually go after it. Not every fight is worth fighting, and sometimes it is a better idea to walk away for your own benefit even if the other side gets away and isn’t held liable. An honest attorney will not make you fight a case just to charge you an hourly fee. He truly works in the best interests of his clients by not only pursuing their legal rights but also advising them whether or not it’s prudent to pursue a case altogether. He understand that pursuing a claim is a business decision first and foremost for all parties involved.
5. A good lawyer is not too busy to handle your case. A competent lawyer will not take on more work than he can handle in a quality manner. A good attorney will not sacrifice the quality of his services for the sheer volume of the business because he realizes that his reputation and concern for his existing clients’ cases is his priority.
6. Lastly, your attorney doesn’t come across as a “typical” lawyer. A great attorney defies the stereotypes that are commonly associated with the legal profession – arrogance, greed and flamboyance, and substance abuse. He is friendly, personable and charismatic and you actually enjoy working with him/her. Attorney-client relationship is one kind of intimate relationship between people where many confidential facts and concerns are often disclosed. Effecitve attorney-client communication requires that the attorney be open and honest with his client and will encourage the client to be the same.