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  • Matthew W. Peterson

How to Choose the Right Attorney

Updated: Mar 13

Choosing the right attorney to trust with your case may be one of the most important decisions of your life. The right lawyer could mean the difference between prison and probation, deportation or staying in this country, or thousands of dollars of your money.

It's a tough decision. You have to find an attorney you can trust, whether it's for a criminal, immigration, or civil case.

I, of course, hope you retain me as your attorney, but even if you don't choose me, I hope this helps you find the right attorney for you.

Here are some things you should consider:

Experience Isn't Everything, But It Counts

The attorneys with the most experience don't necessarily mean they're the best. Bad attorneys can practice for decades, and some of the best attorneys may be young guys who have only been practicing for a few years.

You should make sure the attorney has experience in the area you want them to handle, but don't just hire the attorney who's been practicing the longest.

Take Reviews with Caution

Reviews are great, and great reviews on sites like Avvo, Google, and Facebook generally mean at least some people have had good experiences with the attorney.

But getting good reviews comes down more to focusing on it, not necessarily doing a good job. Former clients generally write reviews after prompting from the attorney, meaning some attorneys who never follow up with their clients but still do a good job hardly ever get good reviews.

A bad review or two doesn't necessarily mean an attorney is awful, either. Sometimes an attorney simply can't help their client, and they get a bad result. This doesn't mean it's the attorney's fault.

Ask Around

Good attorneys generally have satisfied clients. This means their former clients wholeheartedly recommend them. If you have a friend who has hired an attorney, ask them for recommendations.

Or, better yet, if you have a friend who's an attorney, they may be able to recommend someone. If you hired an attorney to do your will, for example, they may be able to recommend a DUI attorney or an immigration attorney.

My clients often come in after talking to other attorneys. I'm glad to tell my potential clients which of the other attorneys they've talked to would be worth hiring.

Don't Pay Attention to Marketing

The market for attorney in Mobile is crowded. This means many attorneys try to get a leg up with Google Advertising or Search Engine Optimization so they can appear at the top of the results. This doesn't mean they're a good attorney - just that they spend a lot of money on marketing.

What to Ask During an Interview with an Attorney

When you meet with an attorney, it's important to ask the right questions and pay attention to the right things.

First, you should try to get a good idea of what the attorney would actually do for you. If they don't know how they would approach a case or just give vague answers, they may not know what to do with your case if you hire them. For example, if you have a complicated criminal case, I generally tell my potential clients what my plan would be and how we would react to different evidence or prosecution strategies. I can't predict what will happen, but I can generally tell you what my game plan would be.

Second, make sure the attorney is the right fit for you. Some attorneys have a more aggressive approach, others try to settle cases. You may prefer one strategy versus the other. Try to find the attorney who fits your personality.

Third, you should make sure the attorney is clear on how much they would charge and when. Make sure you understand what the fee structure would be and how much you would need at certain times.

Fourth, nail down expectations. You should ask the attorney what you can expect in your case - are you likely to face a felony conviction, jail time, a lot of damages, a long process, or what? All litigation is unpredictable, but you should understand what the attorney thinks will happen.

Don't Go for the Cheapest Lawyer Available

Because of the fierce market for attorneys in Mobile, some attorneys charge almost nothing to retain them. There's nothing more expensive than a cheap attorney, though. If an attorney charges you very little, this means they will likely only dedicate a small amount of time to your case - otherwise, they wouldn't make enough money.

Attorneys are expensive, especially if you want someone who will take your case seriously and put in the necessary work. You should be ready to dedicate some money to an attorney if you want them to do a good job.

If you're looking to hire a criminal, immigration, domestic, or civil attorney, it's important to find the right one to deal with your case. Please feel free to contact me if I can help or if you have any questions. If you need a criminal defense lawyer who will fight for you, call me now and set up a consultation at 251-289-0576.