I have often been asked, how can an individual be expected to make a good decision whether an Attorney is competent for a client’s needs; if this legal ruling called an attorney / client privilege detracts from a potential client being able to request references? Since each Attorney can claim client confidentiality, which precludes him or her from giving references; unless that Attorney has been sued for malpractice, how do you, the client know if the Attorney is simply slightly below or above average in his legal handling of his caseload?
Asking an Attorney for his litigation record of wins/losses can help to improve the odds of hiring a competent Attorney, yet every potential client should couple that action with a public search record of that Attorney’s experience. With the world-wide web at our fingertips, it behooves every person seeking legal advice to not only question each Attorney you interview, but perform a public records search to ensure you have adequate information on an Attorney, before you put your legal issue into their hands.
These paradoxical questions are at the core of decision making skills that all Americans in-legal-need must be able to command. The need to ascertain the value of a lawyer’s ability to litigate is critical to your best bet to secure a winning verdict. When your financial future is on the line, how do you research an attorney’s capabilities?
Outside of going online to a general search engine to research an Attorney’s background in a specific state, which is scarce and fraught with potentially subjective and/or damaging comments from unhappy customers; what can you do to raise the stakes for finding a successful litigator? There are various solutions to finding a competent Attorney that has the experience in your legal issue and a history of litigating with a successful record.
These solutions range from asking targeted questions to an Attorney in a phone interview, prior to setting up an appointment; to performing targeted research by going to your State’s Legal Bar Association online and performing a malpractice search. Also there are a wide variety of search engines which provide host companies that keep records of Attorneys with good client references, as well as records of Attorneys with poor client complaints.
We suggest you use a combination of techniques to manage the process of hiring your next Attorney.
Is it any less crucial than when you go to buy a home? Do you sign all the papers without asking questions about the legal ramifications of the documents from the Real Estate Agent? What if you had hired a less than competent Real Estate Agent and they had failed to review the documents to ensure that a fixed loan instead of a balloon payment structure was in the terms of your home purchase? Do you think you could claim malpractice against the Agent who failed to ensure your needs were met; or do you think a judge would ask you if you had protected your rights by careful review of the process?
A legal malpractice is just as hard to prove against an Attorney, unless a blatant claim of negligence on performance of legal services were established.
As a plaintiff, you must prove a breach of duty of the Attorney resulted in an injury or loss to you. Nominal damages, by itself is insufficient to prove your cause of action. You would have to prove the underlying case had merit and there was no judicial error on the part of the court, plus you would have to establish a significant loss of your rights. It is far easier to perform a little extra leg work before hiring an Attorney, than losing a lawsuit with merit and going through the crisis of legal malpractice.
For a more extensive guide on how to find a lawyer please make sure you visit our website and read the 5 Golden Rules.
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