I meet with new clients and potential new clients almost daily. When I do, I know that they are in my office because they have a problem that needs to be solved or important issues they must address. These issues can profoundly impact their career, business, family, and future.
I am also acutely aware that the decision as to which attorney they hire to assist them is one they don’t, and shouldn’t, take lightly. Unquestionably, the quality and competence of a lawyer can play a significant role in the outcome of a given matter. How that attorney approaches their practice and relationship with clients can make all the difference between peace of mind and closure or unresolved concerns and constant worry.
Many of the people I speak with have never needed a lawyer before, or at least one versed in the matter at hand. With over 26,000 attorneys in the Chicagoland area alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it isn’t hard to find a lawyer. The challenge is finding the right lawyer. And that requires knowing the essential qualities that the best attorneys share.
Based on my decades of diverse experience handling countless matters, here are some qualities you should consider if you are in the process of looking for an attorney:
- Knowledge of the Law
It goes without saying that your lawyer should know what they’re doing, including keeping up to date on new developments and approaches. The law is constantly changing; new legislation, court decisions, rules, and guidelines come out all the time. It is crucial to hire a lawyer who not only understands the law as it is but who is aware and alert to the impact of changes that may be coming down the pike.
- Experience and Success
So much of what happens in a legal matter is not based on things found in books or statutes; knowing the nuances of both the law and the reality of practice is crucial to obtaining successful results. Look for a lawyer who knows their way around the courthouse, hearing room, or conference room. Look for a lawyer who knows how things work and how things get done. You want a lawyer with experience and success defending cases like yours, so ask about their track record handling such matters. Sound judgment and deep insight aren’t learned in law school or at a seminar. That is something that only comes from years of experience.
You undoubtedly have many questions about your situation, what may happen next, and what the plan should be going forward. Throughout your case, you’ll want to know that when questions and concerns come up, your attorney will be available and ready to answer and resolve them. You also want a lawyer who will actually listen to you and take the time to understand your needs and goals. If they seem too busy to speak with your or respond to your emails, they are probably too busy to give your matter the attention and effort it needs and deserves.
- Empathy and Trust
When you meet with a lawyer, you are not there necessarily to discuss a case or a file; you are talking about your life. You want an understanding and compassionate lawyer with who you can freely speak about your concerns and issues, and you want to feel as if they genuinely care and understand what is at stake. Choose an attorney who makes you comfortable, who is trustworthy and ethical, who you believe will truly expend all necessary efforts on your behalf, and who gives you a feeling of peace of mind every time you leave his office or hang up the phone after speaking with them.
The attorney-client relationship is a unique and important one, and the trust you place in your lawyer is something they should value and work to earn every single day. I certainly do.