World

Points to Consider When Selecting an Attorney

With 1.1 million lawyers licensed to practice law in the United States, how does a construction company faced with a legal problem decide which attorney is best suited to help the company resolve the problem?

Selecting the right attorney is a time-consuming, but important process. To get started, develop a list of potential candidates by talking to business advisors, people in your industry, other attorneys, and other trusted sources. You can consult law firm websites, online resources, bar associations, or other referral networks.

The next step is to cut the list of potential candidates down to a manageable short list of preferred candidates. Then, contact and interview each of the preferred candidates in person. An increasing number of companies are investing the time and resources to go through a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process.

Regardless of whether your company follows a formal or informal process, construction executives should consider the following ten items when deciding which attorney is best for your company’s legal needs.

1. Identify Your Legal Problem and Use a Specialist

The first step in the process of finding an attorney is to understand the problem or issue facing you. The law has many different specialties and sub-specialties, and before you can accurately determine the best attorney to represent you, you need to determine what kind of lawyer is best suited to address and resolve your problem. During this initial phase, consult your general corporate lawyer or another trusted business advisor such as your accountant.

Select a specialist to help you solve your problem. Lawyers today are as specialized as doctors. You would not ask your internist to perform open heart surgery. Likewise, you should not ask your general corporate lawyer to handle a wage and hour audit or an OSHA inspection. A specialist will know the latest developments and legal nuances applicable to your problem without charging you extra to be on the “cutting edge.” This up-to-the-minute knowledge is essential since it could be the marginal difference in winning or losing your case.

2. Make Sure the Attorney has the Right Experience

The appropriate level of experience is one of the most critical criteria in selecting a lawyer. You want a lawyer with a track record of success with your type of problem. Such a record of experience will increase the likelihood that the attorney can help to resolve your problem successfully.

Obviously, length of service, number of cases in a particular specialty and geographic area, and prior results are important matters to consider in evaluating the attorney’s “experience.” Along with experience comes knowledge of the adversaries and personalities involved in a case cumulative wisdom and perspective to evaluate risks and develop winning strategies related to a particular problem and confidence to steer you through the twists and turns of the legal process.

Viewing the law firm’s website will also give you insight into the scope of the firm’s practice. Explore the website of each firm on your “short list” and Google the firm and individual attorneys. These steps will help you assess the depth and breadth of the firm’s practice.

3. Expect the Attorney to be a Good Communicator

Attorneys are paid to communicate with their adversaries and those sitting in judgment of their cases. Equally important, however, is finding an attorney who can effectively communicate with you. You want an attorney who anticipates your questions and keeps you abreast of the developments in your case without you having to call first.

The attorney should have the ability to communicate in an organized and understandable manner. The attorney should have a good “bedside manner” and have good judgment as to when in-person communications or e-mail is most appropriate. The attorney should also realize that over-communicating may be unnecessary and not cost-effective.

When you are asked to make a decision or to act, the attorney needs to explain succinctly the options available to you, the practical and legal advantages and disadvantages of the different courses of action, and other matters relevant to your decision.

4. Consider the Attorney’s Professionalism

“Professionalism” is more than personality. It involves certain objective actions and behaviors that distinguish the best attorneys from those who are merely competent. Among other things, you should expect a “professional” attorney to:

“Professionalism” is more than personality. It involves certain objective actions and behaviors that distinguish the best attorneys from those who are merely competent. Among other things, you should expect a “professional” attorney to:

  • Work zealously to protect your best interests
  • Work efficiently and economically, using your resources as his own
  • Return all telephone calls or client communications promptly
  • Arrive at meetings on time and well-prepared
  • Follow-up promptly and as appropriate
  • Provide you with advice about alternative dispute resolution procedures
  • Be respectful of everyone, regardless of their position, role, or status
  • Be neat and project the image of success appropriate for your business
  • Behave appropriately in all situations
  • Follow all applicable laws and ethical canons
  • Not do anything that would create the appearance of impropriety

The attorney should display a tireless passion to protect your interests. The best attorneys take ownership in your problem and devote themselves to finding winning solutions.

5. Consider the Attorney’s Approach and Fit with Your Company

Attorneys have many different styles, personalities, and approaches to representing clients. In addition to finding a “professional” attorney, you should match the attorney’s traits to your own style, personality and approach. Underestimating the importance of this subjective factor would be a grave mistake. In the final analysis, you have to find an attorney with whom you are comfortable and whom you can trust to take care of matters that may impact your business.

 

Loading...
Back to top button