There is no doubt finding a lawyer can be difficult. You may think it is too difficult and put it off until the very last minute – Don’t do this; you may be putting your rights at risk. Research a lawyer as early as you can.
When faced with the task of finding a lawyer, the first thing you need to do is understand what area of law you need. The law is a complex creature and you need a specialist. After all, you don’t go to your dentist for a broken leg.
Ask family and friends
You can ask family and friends by all means. However, remember they may have needed a lawyer for a different reason than you do. If you ask family and friends, make sure when you call the lawyer you ask if they are experienced in the area of law you need. If they don’t have the right experience, perhaps they can refer you to an appropriated specialist.
Law Society of South Australian (LSSA)
The LSSA has a referral service on their website and you can follow this link to the LSSA and put in the search criteria to find a lawyer; probably the most extensive list of lawyers in South Australia.
You know a lawyer
If you know a lawyer you can ask them if they are experienced in the area of law you need. Sometimes lawyers don’t like acting for people they consider close friends or family, so don’t be shocked if they cannot help you – perhaps they can refer you to an appropriately skilled lawyer.
You could also ask another professional whose opinion you respect, for example your accountant or financial advisor.
Use a search engine to locate a lawyer with the skills you are after in your area. If you have a name of a lawyer, put that into the search engine and see what comes up. However, when using an online search, don’t just look at the top few results in the search, go further down the list. Once you get the list of options check out the websites, Facebook, and perhaps Twitter accounts for at least 3 or 4 of the lawyers or law firms. The website is likely to have the best information and should include contact details, locations, costs information, lawyer bios, and articles the lawyers have written. Research at this stage is the first step to success.
Making the decision to go with a particular lawyer.
Firstly, call the lawyer and have a chat with them. Ask them about their experience. Make sure they have the skills you need and that you are comfortable speaking with them. If you can check these things off after the phone call, it is probably worth making a time to go in and meet them face to face. If you can’t get into see them, ask if they can come to you or speak to you via video call.
Secondly, when you go in to see them, make sure you have all your paperwork with you and assemble as many facts as you can. I also think it is helpful to both you and the lawyer to have a dot point chronology of what has happened so far – from start to when you sat down to speak with the lawyer. If you were in a car accident, draw a picture of what happened. If you fell at the shops, draw a map of the area in which you fell or bring along photos.
It is also helpful to write down the questions you have before you get there. That way you will remember to ask them. No matter how insignificant you think the question is – ask it, if you thought of it, it’s a valid question you need answered. Also make sure you know what you want to achieve, write it down as it is likely to be a question you are asked.
Make sure if you need an interpreter for the interview with the lawyer you let them know you will bring one along.
Some of the questions you should ask your lawyer are:
- What is your experience in the area of law you need?
- What is the estimate of the time involved?
- What is the estimate of costs?
- What options are there to deal with your particular problem?
- What are the legal steps involved in your matter?
- What are your chances of success?
The best way to avoid problems is to keep the lines of communication open. This is why it is vital that you’re comfortable speaking with your lawyer and that you are certain your lawyer is listening.
Becoming involved in the legal systems is an investment of time and money – don’t waste yours with the wrong lawyer.
Blog post by Dionne Franklin