The initial meeting or conversation with the attorney can also help you to determine whether he or she is detail oriented and will be responsive to your needs. Again, your instincts should serve as your guide. Be sure to ask the attorney if it’s OK to call them throughout the case to discuss any concerns you may have. If he or she balks at the idea, it may indicate that you’ll have trouble relaying your thoughts and obtaining answers to your questions once the case is up and running.
Other questions that should be asked include:
Will I be given periodic updates on the status of the case in writing or by phone?
Will the attorney be the main point of contact, or will communications be delegated to a paralegal?
Beware of Bar Association Referral Hotlines: The Bar Associations have lawyer referral services (in San Diego County, we have the San Diego County Bar Association Referral Service and North County San Diego County Bar Association Referral Service). Understand that lawyers have signed up and paid a fee to be listed in certain specialties with these referral services. Their names come up on a rotating basis. And also note that the bar association is not making any judgment about who is a good attorney and who is not. They are simply connecting a bar member in good standing with a prospective client.
Search for attorneys who are board certified specialists. Some states allow attorneys to become certified specialists in a particular area of law, such as trusts and estates. If professional certification is available in your state, the bar association will have information on it.
Before applying for certification, an attorney must have a certain number of years of experience practicing law in the area, usually at least five.
To become certified, an attorney must submit a number of professional references, take additional courses in that area of law, and pass a lengthy written exam.
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