There are thousands of lawyers in Illinois. Don’t close your eyes and point to a name in the phone book. And don’t Google “Illinois divorce lawyers” and pick from your initial results. You need more information. Here are some things to consider.
- Not all lawyers handle all kinds of cases. A big indicator of success, in our experience, is whether the lawyer on your case has handled similar cases in the past. The more this is true, the better. If your attorney has handled dozens of DUIs, then they are better equipped, generally speaking, to handle yours. Obviously, this is only true if the attorney has been successful in his or her prior cases. Make sure they have a track record of positive outcomes for their clients.
- Big firms aren’t always better. Experience and location matter more for routine legal issues. You want your lawyer to be local so that they know the other attorneys, as well as the judges if you have a court case. Your attorney’s individual experience, as we mentioned above, is extremely important in trusting them to handle your issue. On the other hand, a big downtown law firm can have its advantages. If you have an expensive case and you need a firm with a lot of resources, then a bigger firm is likely a good fit. But don’t assume bigger is better. Focus on what you need in your attorney or firm before deciding who to hire.
- The fee depends on the type of case. Attorney fees are a big question mark when you are just beginning to consider hiring someone. A contingency fee is one in which you don’t pay anything upfront but rather pay a percentage of what you win in the end. A flat fee is just that. You might expect a flat fee for the drafting of your will, or something that is fairly routine. An hourly rate is typical in family law cases and other cases that are unpredictable or don’t involve a monetary award at the end.
- Get a free consultation if you can. At a consultation, you can ask questions and find out what type of fee you can expect in your situation. It’s a great way to get a feel for what you might be facing. If you are using the Internet to research your legal issue, then you’re probably feeling overwhelmed. There is so much information out there but no real way to find out whether it applies to you.
- For best results, ask a lot of questions. At your initial consultation – and throughout your case – ask questions. At first, this will help you know whether you are hiring an attorney who is a good fit. The more you talk and interact, the more you will be able to judge their character. This can end up being just as important as their legal expertise. Next, you should continue to ask questions and stay involved in your case. The more informed you are, the less likely you are to be surprised or caught off guard.
Hiring the right attorney for your case requires a bit of effort, but it definitely pays off. Hiring the wrong attorney can affect the outcome of your case. On top of that, it can make your entire experience difficult. Although you are allowed to switch attorneys later on, it’s not as easy as hiring the right attorney in the first place. Contact us if you’d like one of our attorneys to guide you through the process.