Choosing a lawyer

Find an attorney who's right for you.
Lawyers are everywhere, from billboards to infomercials. Finding an attorney who's right for you — and deciding if you really need one at all — can be frustrating enough to make you want to sue someone. Here's how to start.

Do you need a lawyer?

The answer to this complex question starts with research. Beginning at your local libraries (law and general), bookstores, and on the Web, you can gain a fair idea of what relevant resources are available for your case. You may discover that the forms you need are simply available online or that you can do some of the legal legwork on your own.

Educating yourself will make it easier for you to prioritize and determine when a lawyer's expertise is worth the investment. Depending on the nature of your case and the amount of money involved, it may be too much for you to take on alone.

Honestly consider whether your situation is something you feel confident you can handle, if you may need some coaching or if the situation calls for a professional.

How do you find the right lawyer?

  • Get specific

    Keep focused on the expertise that you need. Most attorneys are specialists. Make sure you understand which area of the law best applies to you, and bear in mind that having a lawyer who's worked on similar cases may need much less of a potentially expensive learning curve.

  • Get face-to-face with your potential lawyer

  • See these profiles of lawyers on When you've found several you may be interested in, it's time to meet your potential attorneys in person. Communicate your needs in advance, and see if the lawyer will agree to an initial half-hour consultation at no charge to help determine your compatibility.

    You'll want to know about their experience, how you will be able to contact them, their fee and billing structures, and their timeline for handling your case. Trust is vital to this relationship, so pay attention to your instincts and comfort level. Ideally, you'll discover someone who can be a strong and helpful ally, a responsive coach and trusted adviser well worth your legal dollars.

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