Tips for Hiring an Attorney
Obviously, we would prefer you to hire Stevens & Legal, but we are not the right fit for everyone, nor do we have the experience you need for every legal issue you have. And it is the experience that you need most when selecting an attorney.
Let us be perfectly clear, you do want to hire an attorney in most situations, especially if you have been injured due to someone else's actions. The insurance companies are not your friends, and they have attorneys they can use to fight you with. They even all keep a database of your claims they then check after a new claim to see if you have a long history of making claims (you can get a free copy each year). As in, they will do anything they can to deny your claim, even if it is your own insurance.
What to Look For
For experience, you want someone who has handled your type of case, or potentially something similar. You may not be able to find someone near you to handle your exact situation, but at the least, find someone who has handled similar cases. Have they handled a pedestrian case or wrongful death case; if not, maybe you need someone else.
Next, is fit. As in, when you talk to the attorney, do you get along, are you on the same page? If not, that lawyer is probably not right for you. Your attorney cannot fight for you and fight you at the same time, you have to be a unified team. There are plenty of attorneys out there, so you should be able to find one you can work with.
Honesty is also key. This is hard to know beforehand, but if your attorney says they are going to do something, make sure they do. And if they do not, then maybe it is time for new counsel. To check on this beforehand, you can check the Oregon State Bar’s website to see if the person you are considering has any record of discipline.
Vet them online. While attorneys may not have Michelin or Zagat ratings, there are a few places on the internet now that have reviews for attorneys and law firms. Google, Yelp, and Avvo are the main places where consumers can leave reviews about an attorney. Use these as part of your toolbox when looking for an attorney.
Ask a friend or co-worker or family. Maybe someone you know has worked with a particular attorney before so you can get an honest opinion about them, or maybe refer you to an attorney they do know.
Lastly is knowledge. Obviously experience and knowledge are similar, but there is a difference. You can usually tell if someone is knowledgeable about a topic when you talk to them. Can they tell you exactly what you need to do after an accident? Again, as no two cases are identical, make sure your attorney has great knowledge in the area of law you are hiring them for. For instance, in personal injury cases, they need to know a fair amount of medical jargon as well as what the correct treatments are for various injuries, while in employment law they need to know what the differences are between workers who are in unions and those who do not.
Side note, lawyers and attorneys are nearly identical terms, but the word attorney is intended to signify a person who is licensed to practice in a jurisdiction. Lawyer, simply means someone learned in the law.