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1. Don't hire a lawyer who actively solicits your business.
If, without your permission, a lawyer or someone acting on his behalf contacts you in person or
by telephone and asks you to hire him in connection with your legal matter, it is commonly
referred to as "ambulance chasing" and is usually in violation of a lawyer’s ethical code of
conduct. When a lawyer will break those rules to get your business, he is probably not the kind
of lawyer you want representing you.
2. Make sure you understand what you're paying for.
No two fee arrangements are exactly alike. Be sure you know from the outset what fees or
percentage of recovery covers what aspects of your case; what service(s) are included, and in
contingency arrangements, whether your lawyer will take his fee "off the top" or only after all
the expenses are counted up. Insist on getting this information in writing and in clear, direct
language that you are comfortable with. Typical litigation expenses include: court costs (fees for
filing a lawsuit), court reporter and copies of transcripts, expert witness fees, private investigator,
postage, telephone, courier, photocopying, legal research, out of town air/ car transportation,
lodging and meal expenses.
3. Learn how you can fire a lawyer.
A good attorney-client contract should specify that, in the event of termination of the
relationship (client fires attorney or lawyer withdraws from case) it is clear how final fees shall
be determined. In contingency fee agreement, will the attorney still gets a large percentage of
any future award or settlement you may receive on your case?. Make sure you know how to fire
your lawyer – before you hire him.
4. Check out your lawyer's records.
If you don’t have personal references/referral from someone you trust, ask the local bar
association if your (prospective) lawyer has ever been the subject of an ethical complaint or
disciplinary action. Such findings may not necessarily rule a lawyer out from your consideration,
but knowing if your lawyer has a pattern of questionable conduct could alert you to potential
problems and save you time and money.
5. Know your options and make sure your lawyer gives you them.
Lawyers don't just file lawsuits, bankruptcies, etc.. In fact, in certain circumstances suing or
filing can be one of the more expensive and time-consuming ways for you to get the
compensation or relief that you seek Make sure your lawyer has an open mind about alternative
means to resolve your problem, such as mediation, arbitration, or settlement.