According to recent demographics released by the American Bar Association, there are approximately 1.1 million lawyers in the country or about 1 active lawyer for every group of 300 people. In addition, 75% of lawyers in the United States are males working in the private sector. Most work in private law firms with anywhere from 2 to 5 lawyers which means that finding the right lawyer is more likely if you start with smaller law firms.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg as the process of finding a good lawyer to help you in your particular situation is about as complex as can be. For instance, legal help is categorized according to legal problems. Just as there are doctors who specialize in specific medical conditions and treatments, lawyers are also trained and experienced according to divisions of law. If you need help with your business, you may need a corporate lawyer, civil lawyer, tax lawyer, insurance lawyer, employment lawyer, copyright lawyer, contract lawyer, or worker’s compensation lawyer, to name a few. Technically though, law is divided into civil and criminal cases so this should help you get started.
Are you being charged with a crime or is someone suing you?
Before you get confused about finding the right lawyer because of the more than 15 types of specialties in the legal system, you should start by understanding the difference between a civil and criminal case.One of these differences is that with a civil case, the person or group filing the complaint is a private individual/organization while with a criminal case, the government thru the prosecutor files the case.
Another major difference is that with a criminal case, the person charged is never at risk of
being incarcerated or face the possibility of the death penalty, if found guilty. These punishments are only possible with criminal cases.
Once you know which of the 2 types of lawyers you need, you can proceed with more detailed criteria such as:
Reputation for winning in favor of client
Education, experience, and specialization
Available time to work on your legal problems
Preference for a single lawyer or a team of lawyers
Ideally, the more serious your case is, the more important it is to hire a lawyer from a bigger law firm with an impeccable reputation. On the other hand, an older lawyer is not necessarily a wiser or better lawyer. Also, a big law firm does not mean higher legal fees since many top law firms like to take on pro bono cases which means no legal fees are charged or if fees are to be collected, it is greatly reduced.
According to a topnotch lawyer, there are 4 reasons a firm would accept pro bono cases:
- It improves their corporate image
- It is good practice for their junior lawyers
- It is a marketing and recruitment strategy
- It expands the law firm’s network
Ultimately, the best way to find the right lawyer is to sit down and talk to one. If you get along and you can understand each other, chances are good that you will work well together. Of course, it’s not that simple. You should discuss legal fees, working method, track record, and credentials. If you come across any lawyer who refuses to divulge these critical professional details or put the fees in writing, then step away. It is better to tread carefully to prevent further aggravating your situation with a hasty decision.