If you run your own business, you’re almost certain to require a lawyer at some point. This is a crucial decision and not one to be taken lightly. Lawyers are expensive and costs can escalate very quickly if they charge based on their time. However, they provide great value if you find the right lawyer.
At FirmChecker, it’s our business to use data to match you with the right lawyers who are trusted and valued by others. In this post, we’ll look at key factors to consider to help you find the right lawyer.
Law Institute’s Guide to Selecting the Right Lawyer
The Law Institute of Victoria has a helpful guide for choosing lawyers that are right for you. It’s a two-way process – you need to come to your meeting prepared so that you can assess your potential lawyer effectively.
Finding potential lawyers
In terms of finding which lawyers to brief, they outline referrals, friends and family, other professionals and the LIV as places to find a lawyer. You can also use FirmChecker as a good starting point.
Before your meetings
Firstly, LIV recommends that you write down the questions you want to ask the lawyer and clear objectives you want to achieve from your meeting. You should write down full details of your situation in an easy-to-understand summary, in case you forget anything during the meeting. If you require support (e.g. a friend, relative or interpreter) make sure you organise ahead of the meeting.
During your meetings
Secondly, when you meet with the prospective lawyer, you should have key criteria in mind and know how much they matter to you. For example, you may want to ask the lawyer for:
- Evidence of experience with this kind of problem
- A time estimate
- Their start time
- Your options
- Your chances of a successful outcome are
- Likely costs and what you can do to reduce them
- Whether you are entitled to legal aid
“Sisters-in-Law”: How to find the right lawyer
Alison and Jillian Barrett are Queensland-based lawyers who write for Fairfax. They have a helpful guide here.
They recommend the following steps:
- Determine the specific area of law you need expertise in
- Look at law society websites and other directories
- Check online reviews and the firm’s website
- Ask friends and family for recommendations
- Compile a shortlist
- Meet them
3 Key Take-Outs
These articles both give a different, qualitative perspective on how to choose the right lawyer. They should be balanced with quantitative metrics (i.e ratings) where available. The three key take-outs are:
- Be prepared. You should have as much information as possible, and you won’t get it unless you go into your meeting with a lawyer prepared. This should include detailed written notes and consideration of what exactly it is that you want to achieve.
- Background check. There are a lot of online resources you can consult, including law society directories, Google and Facebook reviews, firm websites and their FirmChecker profile. Using these resources to filter firms and go in with your eyes open is critical.
- Ask contacts. If you can cross-reference what you find online with recommendations from friends, family and colleagues, consider this additional and useful data in making your decision. A quick LinkedIn search can help for mutual contacts.
In choosing the right lawyer, you are putting together a puzzle of different pieces of information which come together to give you the right decision. Using a combination of online resources, personal recommendations and, crucially, preparation, you can make sure you are getting real value out of your lawyer.
About the Author
Ben Farrow is the Managing Director of FirmChecker. He holds commerce and law degrees from the University of Melbourne and digital marketing certifications from Northwestern University. He aims to demystify professional services.
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