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The good news is that the majority of lawyers are competent (or better), which means that in most cases you will probably be able to find someone who can represent your interests at least reasonably well.

The bad news is that the distinction between a C+ lawyer and an A+ lawyer is very difficult and requires a lot of effort. Unfortunately, I don't think the profession as a whole helps clients make informed decisions.

The question you asked is how we know that a lawyer is "good". Many people assume that if the lawyer "wins" a lot of business, he is good. 

There is a certain degree of truth: good lawyers will win more cases than they should, just as bad lawyers will lose more cases than they should. 

But most legal issues aren't black and white; if a client wins $1 million in damages at trial, but has to spend $1.5 million in fees to get there, is that really a win? If a client with a legitimate exposure of $10 million settles a $2 million case, is it really a "loss"? Good lawyers are those who consistently achieve better results than the client can legitimately expect.

As far as qualities are concerned, a "good" lawyer is a lawyer who :

  • has experience in your types of cases,
  • is loyal to you and gives you an appropriate level of attention,
  • works diligently but with respect for ethics
  • don't shy away from a challenge,
  • turns out to be a solid work product without wasting time

accomplishes all this at a reasonable price for your budget (There are lawyers at €800/hour who can't tick all these boxes, and lawyers at €100/hour who can)

admit not knowing the answer to all the questions but who knows how to search for information

talking to you objectively about your case/goals.

Point n°8 is something that people screw up all the time; many clients walk through the door assuming that their case is flawless and ask for validation. 

They consider any analysis of a lawyer to be a personal criticism. Other times, customers may have doubts about their business and are looking for a "champion" to tell them that everything will be fine.

Potential clients often get upset when they find out that their case involves risks and go in search of a lawyer who "believes in them".

For example, a few years ago, I attended a consultation with a person who wanted to file an action for breach of contract. There was only one problem: 

an unambiguous section of the contract made it impossible to sue, since it allowed the actions that the alleged client claimed to be a violation. 

A few minutes after reviewing the contract, my partner and I came to the same conclusion. We politely explained the situation, pointed out the section in question and noted the almost certain result. 

It was not a joyful moment for us, because we were probably saying goodbye to a few hundred thousand dollars in fees by announcing to the client that he was going to throw money away by filing a lawsuit. Still, it was the right thing to do. 

The client's reaction was anger, telling us that we were wasting his time and did not understand the contract and that he obviously needed to find "real" lawyers to help him. Bad move on his part; the "real" lawyers he was looking for should be willing to ignore an obvious flaw in his case.

Beyond legal skills, the main advantage of hiring a lawyer lies in the gain of objectivity: his job is to fight zealously for you, but behind closed doors, his job is to advise you on legal matters, not to tell you what you want.

The fact that a case is an uphill battle will not prevent a good lawyer from working diligently on your behalf if you wish, so you should welcome someone very early who tells you about potential problems related to your case, before your bills start piling up. 

A person who is direct with you from the start, even if it means giving up earnings, is someone you should be able to trust.

There is obviously nothing wrong with getting a second opinion: lawyers are not infallible, and the fact that one lawyer does not think much about a case does not mean that the next lawyer cannot see things differently (and be right). 

But your second opinion must be able to explain why it does not agree with the initial e assessment. If lawyer n ° 2 or 3 says "yes, I understand what lawyer 1 is saying, but there are several reasons why I think he is incorrect / too pessimistic" or "yes, lawyer 1 is right that there is a problem with your case. 

However, here's why I think you always have good cases to litigate," so you may have found a better lawyer. 

On the other hand, a lawyer who says things like "Lawyer 1 doesn't know what he's talking about", "I'm an expert in this field, we'll find out" or "Lawyer 1 apparently doesn't believe in you, but me," without more, it's probably just telling you what you want to hear.

It is far better to know all the pros and cons of your case before filing a complaint, and then work with your lawyer to try to achieve the best possible result. Sometimes a client will still want to continue a long-term procedure, and that's fine, as long as he does it with his eyes open.

So how do you find a good lawyer? 

The best approach is usually to ask other lawyers you know, even if their expertise is not related to your case. 

Having only been practicing for 10 years, I know a large number of excellent lawyers throughout the country whom I would trust if I had a specific legal problem and whom I could recommend without hesitation. If I have any doubts, the more experienced lawyers I respect have a long list of contacts. 

Non-lawyer friends and colleagues are often useful for certain types of sponsorship: your jogging friend who served his sentence in his divorce or your uncle who beat his DWI (NDT: drunk driving) could point you in the right direction if you are having similar problems. 

But going to see someone because they are your friend's cousin or something like that almost always ends badly. 

Finally, the Internet is a mixed bag; Sites such as SuperLawyers are relatively good and Chambers and Benchmark are excellent for high-level work, but many of the sites are advertisements or thinly veiled needle generators. 

If you live near a big city, many local magazines and newspapers produce annual lists of the best lawyers in the area. These can be useful, as long as they are not paid.

If you feel that you can be the subject of a lawsuit (or that you have been sued), you should not wait to get advice, because claims and lawsuits have a deadline, and the more time you have to find a lawyer, the better your chances. are to find the right one. 

Find 3-4 references and arrange meetings with these lawyers. It's good to tell lawyers that you're exploring your options. good lawyers are not afraid of competition.

Most lawyers - even lawyers like me who charge high rates - will chat with you for free for an hour or two and do a little work to try to determine if they can be of help. 

You will probably want to ask about the lawyer's educational background. I don't think it's extremely important, but it's also not unimportant. You definitely want to know if they regularly handle cases like yours.

You want a lawyer who will listen actively; my job is to ask questions and get the facts, not to lecture or sell.

You need to know what the lawyer's rates will be and whether he has room for maneuver. You want to know how long they collect this case and, if necessary, ask for a budget. Finally, you want to know if the case has any risks or disadvantages and, if so, how serious it is. 

All this time, you should try to find out if you would be able to work with this lawyer. you don't have to be the best friends in the world, but it's a close relationship, so connection is important. Don't be afraid to ask questions. 

there are no stupid questions, and any lawyer who tries to make you feel stupid or inferior is someone you don't want to work with.

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