Choosing the right attorney is the first step in achieving success. Unfortunately, many people with legal problems take the wrong first step by hiring an attorney who is not suited for their needs. Is your attorney prepared to take your case to trial if necessary? Is he an experienced, proven litigator? Can you afford to choose the wrong lawyer?
We have all seen lawyers on TV telling us how good they are and how much money they will earn for us. Have you ever wondered why these attorneys have to spend so much time and money advertising on TV and billboards if they are really that good?
The truth is, many of the attorneys you see advertising on TV don't really spend a lot of time in the courtroom. They rarely actually try a case by themselves in front of a jury. That's because these TV lawyers are not in the business of trying cases: they are in the business of settling cases.
Often, these TV attorneys pay non-attorneys to visit your home and "sign you up." Some TV lawyers have former insurance employees working in their offices whose job is to settle cases with insurance companies. The more cases they settle, the more money they make. Some people who hire a TV lawyer never see the TV lawyer—only his employees.
Is this the kind of legal representation you want?
Before you hire at TV lawyer to handle your personal injury claim, ask him to give you the name and file number of every personal injury case he actually tried by himself in front of a jury in the past 12 months. Then check it out. If you are satisfied that the TV lawyer is actually at trial lawyer ready to take your case all the way to a jury if necessary, then hire him. If not, then you better look elsewhere for reliable legal representation.
To be frank, large prestigious law firms usually have extremely competent attorneys, legal research assistants, paralegals, secretaries and office staff who are ready, willing and able to handle your legal needs. Although most of these large law firms concentrate on corporate clients and insurance defense work, many also provide routine legal services for "regular folks." The only problem is that these large law firms must sustain huge overhead expenses to pay for all the attorneys, legal research assistants, paralegals, secretaries, office staff and elegant surroundings. All those oriental rugs and antique furnishings aren't cheap! Who pays for all this? You do.
One thing you will quickly learn about large law firms—they make their money by meticulous hourly billing--win or lose. Before you employ a large law firm, ask yourself the question, "If the law firm makes its income from billing clients by the hour, what incentive do the attorneys have to complete my case quickly and efficiently?"
Now that's a good question.
According to figures provided by the Mississippi Bar Association, small law firms and solo practitioners make up the majority of attorneys practicing law in Mississippi.
Small law firms and solo practitioners usually do not engage in expensive advertising. They must rely on their reputation in the community and referrals from former clients to get and keep business.
When selecting an attorney, always consider your needs, your ability to pay, and the reputation of the attorney or law firm you wish to employ.