Here’s a secret about working with an attorney in Illinois. You almost never see them face to face. You might when you first hire them and maybe if you have to give a deposition or the case goes to trial some day, but the reality is that whether your lawyer is down the block or 20 miles away, you’ll probably see them the same amount. And believe it or not, many people sign up through the mail and despite tons of phone calls and e-mails, choose to never see their lawyer in person at all.
Our advice is to always hire the law firm that gives you the best chance for a good result. That is usually based on the practice focus of the lawyer, their years of experience, knowledge with similar cases, track record of success and many intangibles such as do they fight for you, how is their customer service, what is their availability, etc.
Some people are deathly afraid of coming in to the city of Chicago. If you have a DUI in Wheaton, you don’t need a Chicago attorney. But if you have a major personal injury claim or a Federal criminal case or high end divorce, the fact of the matter is that the best firms are in the City. You might save yourself travel time one day, but in the long run you will likely you harm your case.
For Cook County cases this is especially true. I recently had a woman call me looking for a referral to a new car accident lawyer. She had an attorney in her neighborhood on the southside, but he never returned calls and one day she discovered he had left the firm. I recommended a top car accident lawyer in Chicago, but she was very hesitant because she didn’t want to travel and ultimately stuck with her same guy. Now the case was going to be filed downtown so if she ever had to go to court she’d have to travel. So would her attorney. But this firm doesn’t want to go downtown because it’s a hassle for them too. As a result they have a reputation of settling cases for whatever is offered instead of going for what’s best for the client.
Finding the law firm that gives you the best chance of a good result doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be happy or that you’ll win. But it sure makes it much more likely. Sometimes that is found right down the street. Other times you might have to travel. But I promise you that when all is said and done you will be happy that you looked out for yourself and went with the firm that increased your chances.
Written by Michael Helfand