Choosing a Lawyer

“The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.” Missouri Supreme Court Rule 4-7.2

So, what is the best way to choose a lawyer? Looking around the web, we find lots of suggestions.

How about a lawyer who never lost a case? I know a lawyer who never lost a case. He never lost because he never tried one. Okay, but what about a lawyer who won every case? Easy. Pick a lawyer who only takes easy cases. Find a lawyer who has lost a lot of cases, big cases with spectacular failure – there’s a lawyer that has probably learned a thing or two.  The trouble is, every client’s case is different and every client has a different idea of what “win” means.

Ask around among friends and family. You’ll get suggestions about lawyers who seemed pleasant to work with or seemed reasonable on fees or seemed like they knew what they were talking about. Maybe you’ll get lucky and your friends will steer your right.

Cheapest lawyer. The cheapest lawyer, in the long run, is the lawyer that gets the job done. The cheapest lawyer in terms of lowest price, is probably the one nobody wants to hire.

A “Super” lawyer/Martindale-Hubbell/rating?  Make sure you understand what the ratings mean and don’t mean.  Sometimes they have surprisingly little to do with whether there’s a good fit with your case.  Sometimes all they mean is that the lawyer paid for the endorsement.

Tour the office. I have a humble office. My rent is cheap. I’m here to work. If you like, for a fee, we can rent out the entire Tower Club and cater a feast for you and your family, complete with acrobats and a magic show. All that will likely have no bearing on how I handle your case. Neither does the fact that some other lawyer stuck a fountain in his lobby.

Pit bull/Shark/Bully. Anyone can practice like a jerk. Reasoned tenacity and persistence can be useful. Asserting boundaries can be useful. But being a jerk is no more useful in litigation than in any other aspect of life.

To cut to the chase… The best lawyer for you is probably the one you feel right about. Someone you click with enough to work together, but not so much you get personally caught up in one another’s problems. Someone you trust to get the job done. Someone that seems reasonable competent and diligent. Someone you can afford, but not someone cheap. And probably the biggest factor? Someone whose advice you feel like you could follow, because that, in my experience, is the biggest determinant of how a case goes: Can you follow this lawyer’s advice?

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