First, every client must be sure their attorney has the specific skills needed to handle their case.
A second factor lacking the necessary emphasis, or simply ignored altogether, is whether or not your personality will match enough with the attorney’s.
Does that mean you need a soul-mate? Of course not. What it does mean is that if you are an extremely relaxed individual, who loves to get to know everyone on a more personal level or perhaps cracks a joke every few sentences, you probably aren’t going to feel very in sync with an attorney who can barely crack a smile during an entire meeting.
However, if excessive conversation or the occasional wisecrack makes you uncomfortable or feel like you are not being taken seriously, you may be considerably happier with counsel who gets down to business immediately and doesn’t engage in extraneous conversation.
Finally, know what you expect from an attorney before blindly hiring one on word of mouth alone.
It sounds similar to the personality factor, but they are very different. For example, if you are the kind of person who expects to be kept informed on every development and exchange involved in your case, hiring a lawyer who is horrible at returning phone calls and emails will only bring you misery, fear and resentment.
On the other hand, if you expect to provide your attorney with the information they need to do their job and don’t want to be bothered any further until the meaningful results are in, you probably don’t want counsel who sends updates or asks questions every time the smallest event occurs. It’s a very personal choice, but one that is best made before entering a contractual relationship.
Finding the right attorney for your legal needs doesn’t have to be like a trek up Mount Everest on a heavy snow day. However, putting in the time to meet several lawyers with established track records working in your specific legal area will pay off in the end. More overlooked, but just as important, is paying enough attention to whether you and your new counsel are compatible in ways that will greatly determine the overall experience for both of you.