Don't rush into hiring an attorney and don't assume that expensive is better, or low-cost is ineffective. Get to know your chosen attorney and be careful who you let control your case. Perhaps the most important thing to consider in choosing an attorney is how you feel about your relationship to him/her. Does he listen to your thoughts, questions, ideas and concerns? Does he involve you actively in your case? Do your phone calls get returned promptly? Are you kept informed of your case's progress and receive billing statements for fees and costs regularly? If the shoe doesn't fit well, the journey will be difficult.
The "right" lawyer is one who is professional, educates their client, empowers the client to make good choices about the law and keeps fees and expenses under control. Hiring a lawyer is a big decision. Circumstances are often stressful, and the consequences of making the wrong decision can be dire.
HERE ARE SOME STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO ENSURE THAT YOU FIND THE RIGHT ONE:
1. Everyone is different, and you need a lawyer who will mesh well with your personality and expectations about how the case will be handled. Attorneys are humans too (imagine!) and we have distinct personalities and approaches to the law. You should find an attorney that suits your needs and your personality too as much as possible. This is a stranger you are inviting into the inner most parts of your life. They will know more about you than many people in your life. It wouldn't hurt to get along with them and maintain a friendly professional relationship.
2. Initial consultations and fees
3. Ask questions
What's your litigation style? Will you tell me if I'm being unreasonable? Will you communicate with me regularly? Will I be talking to you or your assistant? Will you help me to conserve money? These are all reasonable questions to ask. If you get done describing an awful abusive situation and your attorney seems to just sit there and not care, you might want to search some more.
4. Don't be afraid to mention the "F" word.
Fees are how an attorney makes his living. Setting fees is largely subjective and varies from attorney to attorney.
An attorney that gives true value through his or her advice is what you should focus on. As President Abraham Lincoln said, "an attorney's time & advice; are his stock & trade."
Your fee agreement should only be made following an initial consultation with you to ascertain your needs and determine the best course of action to attain those needs. Many documents can be prepared effectively using the flat fee method.
If your need is of a complex nature or may involve either other people, businesses, or government agencies, effective control over future events surrounding your need is not totally within your control. In these situations, an hourly fee is common.
Legal Fee Estimates are based upon my experience of a typical case similar to yours. The actual final cost may be more or less. Also, the more active you are in the case assisting with some of the work, [such as locating information, addresses, contacts, documents, etc.], lessens the time your attorney spends on such tasks, and your legal costs. Your legal fees should become part of your budget. A "low ball" fee for a case such as this is unrealistic and a disservice to you, since your planning and expectations will consequently be unrealistic as well.