if you are not comfortable with an individual, don’t hire them as an attorney.
- Talk to friends, acquaintances, etc. If your company has an Employee Assistance Program, they may give you a referral (many attys who participate in EAP referral programs will also discount the hourly rate they charge).
- Meet with the attorney AND their support staff. First, most times the attorney will be too busy to talk to you. Second, its cheaper by the hour to talk to the paralegal than the attorney. Third, its the paralegal who does all the grunt work in any event.
- Check with the local bar association to see if the attorney has a record of grievances against him/her.
- Make sure that the attorney gives you a written retainer agreement that spells out – the minimum fee, the hourly billing, what is billed and what isn’t (for example, do they bill for traveling to the courthouse), how much does the extra stuff cost (like photocopying and faxes). The American Bar Association has billing protocols – I believe they can be found online.
- How comfortable are you telling this person ALL the details of your story. Attys. are advisors and friends but also confidants/father confessors. If you can’t confide fully in them, the relationship probably will not work out well.
- Go to Martindale-Hubbell on line – it will list attorneys by state and by city/town. Check to see where the attorney went to college and law school, what bar committees is the attorney a member of. Don’t have an attorney who primarily does criminal law handle your divorce. MH also publishes attorney ratings. Check to find the firm rating and see if there is a rating for the particular attorney you are meeting.
Hope this helps.