Most people don’t have a lot of experience hiring lawyers. When you go to hire an attorney in Connecticut, there are things you should look up, and questions you should ask, to help you find the best attorney for your case. Putting in the effort before signing any paperwork will be worth it, regardless of who you hire.
There are essentially five steps to hiring the right lawyer:
- Gather a list of potential attorneys
- Request information
- Interview lawyers
Step 1: Research your legal problem
Don’t look for a lawyer – yet.
What you are trying to do here is simply get a quick education so you can be an informed consumer. This is like looking up car prices and information before you shop for a new car. You can get a ton of information by Googling “accident lawsuit” or “injury lawsuit.”
Remember, not all of the information you find in this research will be useful or even accurate. The point is to collect information and get some idea of your situation before you talk to a lawyer. You should at least know what questions to ask.
Step 2: Gather names of potential attorneys
Now we get the potential lawyer pool together.
- I would first check with any lawyer I personally know. Even if they don’t handle the area you need, they will be a good source of who does handle the type of case you have.
- Then, ask people who have had to hire a lawyer . Ask them about their experience with the lawyer. Again, even if they don’t handle your practice area, they might be a good referral source.
Google. Do a search for the precise type of case you are looking for in Connecticut. Don’t just type in “personal injury attorney.” That will return too many entries. many, if not most of them, might not be useful for you. Instead, try a search like: “Norwich, CT car accident lawyer” or “New London, CT burn accident lawyer” or “knee replacement lawyer Hartford, CT.” Be specific and you will get better results.
- Look for lawyers who advertise in only a few specialties. A lawyer who specializes has the experience to do a better job than a lawyer who tries to do everything
Step 3: Request an information package
Call the lawyers on your list and ask them to mail you any books, free reports, CDs, or DVDs they have produced for your type of case. You are better off doing preliminary research in your own home without any pressure, just like you would before making any other important decision.
Almost every personal injury lawyer will offer a free initial consultations. This is probably not the most efficient way to get information. Instead, ask them to send you anything they would like you to read that would convince you to hire them as your attorneys. Sometimes, you can have a brief telephone call with someone and get some of your questions asked.
Once you have narrowed the list to two or three, call and schedule a consultation.
Step 4: The Consultation – interview your top choices
Usually, the best and most-experienced attorneys are selective in which cases they will handle, and turn away more cases than they accept. You may not even be able to set up an immediate appointment with them – it may take a few weeks to get in. They should welcome your questions, because it shows you are taking steps to educate yourself.
You should ask the following questions:
- How many years have you been in practice?
- What experience do you have handling my type of case?
- What is the hardest part about my case?
- What does my case have going for it?
- What is the process for handling my case?
- Who will work on my case?
- How will you keep me informed about my case?
- Have you published guides, articles, or books for lawyers or consumers?
- Do you carry malpractice insurance?
- Can I take a copy of the written fee agreement home to study? (There is no standard fee agreement.)
Step 5: Evaluate the information you have gathered
You need a good lawyer, and one with whom you “click.” Consider some of these in deciding whether the lawyer is one you might select:
- Consistent past results: While past results are no guarantee of future results, inconsistency in the past is a warning sign.
- Experience: Lawyers, like everyone else, improve with practice.
- Recognition: there are a number of review services, like Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers, a “superb” rating from Avvo, or an AV, “preeminent” designation from Martindale-Hubbell
- Discipline: Lawyers are regulated by the State, and there are public records of when a lawyer has been disciplined. I would tread cautiously when dealing with a lawyer with a past discipline problem.