Whether it’s for a DUI or a range of other needs, choosing the right legal representation is vitally important, so you should be careful making that choice.
There are two professions where people are sometimes forced by circumstances into choosing someone to help them, knowing little or nothing about them, and provide a service that can have life-altering consequences if handled poorly. Doctors and lawyers. So, if you ever find yourself in need of say, a St. Augustine DUI attorney, or someone to represent you in other legal matters, where do you start looking? And what do you look for?
Inevitably, many people are going to start with Google. If you do that, the first results you’re going to see are law firms that have paid to be at the top. Fortunately, these are all clearly marked with the word “Ad” beside them, but still…too many people click the first links they see and wind up with not necessarily the best lawyers, just the best marketers.
Next, you’ll see results driven by Google Maps, which will show you law firms based on location. And while these might be great lawyers, office location is hardly a vital criteria as long as the firm is based in your overall area, like St. John’s County.Only after those two sections will you start seeing organic results that are driven by all the things that lend credibility and legitimacy to a St. Augustine law firm.
There are other ways to look for a lawyer, like ads and review apps. Obviously don’t go just by that information, interview your potential lawyer carefully before committing. You can also get referrals from your area bar association. Probably the most common instinct is to “ask around,” and see if someone you know has a lawyer they’ve worked with that they can personally recommend. Just be careful, your case is probably entirely different than your friends’.
But you’ll notice we give our best advice at the end of every blog, which is to not wait until you need a lawyer to find one. Give yourself ample time to look for qualified candidates, interview them and vet them well before you need them. It’s a fantastic feeling knowing you have legal representation you trust ready to go, with their number in your phone, in the unfortunate event you need them.
Once you’re at the stage of making sure a lawyer is right for you, these are the qualities you’ll want to make sure your future lawyer has:
Optimistic But Shoots Straight
Nobody know anything for sure, so no one should be out there making any promises they can’t keep or predictions that might not come true. Beware overconfidence and swagger. And while it feels good to be told what you want to hear, you don’t want a lawyer who does that.
Forthcoming with Options
Did you know you get to participate in your own legal defense? You even get to call the shots! Your lawyer should clearly lay out the various approaches and options for handling your case then advise on which they think is best.
How can your lawyer know what your goals are, or even what kind of personality you have and opinions you hold about your situation if they won’t be quiet and attentively listen to what you have to say?
Accessible, Responsive and Communicates.
These are the biggies and the source of most dissatisfaction with lawyers. You should be able to reach your lawyer, in various ways, and get a response within a reasonable period of time. You should be kept updated, not guessing or in the dark, on everything happening with your case. Your lawyer should lay off the jargon and legalese and communicate so that you clearly understand what’s happening.
A lot of clients want their lawyer to feel sorry for them or take a personal interest in the case like on TV. Believe us, you want someone level-headed and pragmatic, not emotional and obsessed. Your lawyer should be able to assess all points of view and have a professional relationship with you based the facts, whatever those may be.
Transparent About Fees
This upfront discussion is essential in order for everything to move forward productively. There are flat fees for specific tasks, but mostly they vary. Since it’s impossible to predict how a case will play out, your potential lawyer will probably give a range of expected costs. Be careful if they delay or avoid discussion of fees.
Gives You a Good “Feeling”
It’s 100% okay to trust your gut when talking to a prospective attorney. If you get a weird feeling, keep looking around so you can compare. You have enough to worry about without having doubts about your representation.
Educated and Experienced
You want to know it’s not their first rodeo and they know from experience how to achieve the most positive outcome. They should be able to anticipate questions and answer questions you didn’teven know you should be asking.It’s not offensive to ask for references and credentials. And it’s always a good idea to seek out a specialist in your area of concern, like if you needed a DUI attorney in St. Augustine.
They Have a Turf
Speaking of which…it helps to have a lawyer who knows the local area and all the judges, officers, prosecutors, systems, and other legal players involved. And it’s always better if your lawyer isalready known and respectedby those they’ll be interacting with.
Intellectually Curious and Creative
You want to know your lawyer is invested and cares; that they’re willing to put adequate thinking time into all the possible approaches to the case.You also want someone who thinks it’s important to stay updated on the law, research methods, and technology.
Not a Crook
Kind of obvious. Avoid anyone who’s had a history of unethical or illegal behavior in the course of practicing the law.
Willing to Reject You
If a lawyer or law firm is overloaded or doesn’t think they’d be your best shot at a good outcome, they should be willing to turn down the business and tell you to look elsewhere.
Few people have time or think clearly when they’re in the storm of legal trouble. The sooner you have a DUI lawyer, or any lawyer,chosenin advance, the better. We invite you to start by talking with Shoemaker Law, DUI lawyers in St. Augustine, at 904-872-SHOE.