How to select the best attorney
Your child has been arrested at a Purdue fraternity party for dealing marijuana and public intoxication. Perhaps you just received divorce papers by the sheriff or your mother has passed away and you have to open an estate to sell her house.
Not everyone has a friend who is an attorney. Your gut tells that your relative who just obtained his law degree might not be the best choice. “My Cousin Vinny” was a great movie but it is Hollywood fantasy. You want the best attorney for yourself or family member. So how do you find and hire the best attorney for your case?
First, check out the attorney you are considering hiring on the Indiana Roll of Attorneys at “courts.in.gov/cofc/roll-atty.html”. This site will tell you how long the attorney has been practicing in Indiana. Most importantly, it will tell you if the attorney has been disciplined in the past for unethical or unprofessional conduct. Do you really want to be represented by an attorney with a discipline history or a law firm that has an attorney with such a history?
Find an attorney who has handled the kind of cases that you want the attorney to handle. You do not want to hire an experienced personal injury or business attorney to handle your operating while intoxicated, marijuana possession or divorce case. Also, avoid attorneys who have not had several years of experience in your kind of case because you do not want your case to be part of the attorney’s learning curve.
Hire a local attorney. We believe that the best result requires an attorney that has been in front of your judge and faced opposing counsel numerous times. An attorney that travels beyond the counties adjoining to his county of practice will be at a distinct disadvantage due to his lack of experience in the court your case is pending.
Meet with the attorney or have the attorney meet with the family member. Expect the best attorneys to charge a fee to see a potential client especially if a drive is involved. Just like an in demand medical specialist, the best attorneys are busy and do not have to give free consultations.
Be sure that the attorney that you hire will be the attorney actually handling your case. Some attorneys will delegate cases to an inexperienced associate to give their new employee a chance to learn how to be a lawyer. You do not want the only meeting with the attorney that you think you are hiring for your case to be the initial meeting when you hand over your credit card or check.
Do not let price be your only consideration. If you search for the cheapest attorney, you are going to get a cheap attorney who will cut corners, not return your calls, be reluctant to meet with you or explain your case with you. Competent attorneys have a great deal invested in their careers and businesses and charge a fair fee for their services even though it may sound expensive to someone who has fortunately never before faced a serious legal matter. A competent attorney will tell you from the start that additional fees and expenses may be required based on what occurs during the investigation and preparation of your case.
Do not eliminate an attorney just because they have a couple of bad internet reviews. Those reviews could be from competitors or a disgruntled client that had unrealistic expectations regarding his case. You want an attorney that has been recognized by his peers by being selected to positions in legal associations or receiving awards as the best in their field such as the attorneys at Vonderheide and Knecht.