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Finding the Right Attorney

Finding the right attorney can be a daunting task. Does the attorney have experience in this area of law? Are the attorney’s fees reasonable in comparison to what other similarly experienced attorneys charge? Does the attorney have time to handle to the matter? An internet search or flipping through the yellow pages will not necessarily reveal the attorney that is best suited for your needs. Advertising for attorneys was determined by the Supreme Court as protected speech in the 1970s. Since that time the public has been inundated with television advertisements, newspaper advertisements and now the internet. A search for an attorney on the internet generally pulls up web pages for attorneys that simply have been indexed based upon the search terms provided the user. In fact, practice area terms have increased based upon these search terms that are not necessarily true areas of the law.

The best way to find an attorney is to know who to call before the need arises. This can be easily done by establishing a relationship with attorney that is long lasting. Having a relationship with an attorney will allow you to have contact with a Bar professional that should be able to guide you in the right direction, depending upon the type of the matter that you need. As an example, our firm primarily focuses on business litigation, business development and personal injury. We also handle an array of civil trial work, but do not engage in criminal law or divorces. In the event that one of our clients need services in the areas of criminal law or divorces, we are able provide appropriate referrals to our existing clients.

Most attorneys have relationships with other professionals that engage in different areas of law. Not having an attorney until you absolutely need one is where one can end up with an attorney not suited for them and/or their situation. The problem is that a number of people try to handle their own legal affairs until a situation that is out of their control arises. There are a number of internet resources and software programs that allow people to handle certain small legal matters on their own. This has been the case for years as office supply stores offered legal form kits before there were personal computers or the internet. While doing your own legal work may be sufficient for that particular matter, the person is still left in the dark when more complex matters arise and are generally unaware of the pitfalls that may lie ahead by handling their own legal work. As an example, a small business owner can incorporate, through a variety of means, without using the services of an attorney. The problem with this is that the small business owner generally cannot decipher what legal entity is best suited and how to maintain the entity they have created “legal.”

While it may cost more to engage an attorney to help start up a business, it is the best practice as this will start an ongoing relationship that can be most helpful in times of need. The same is true for legal matters of a personal nature. The best way to find an attorney when the serious needs arise is to have an attorney that you already have a relationship with. Developing a good relationship with an attorney takes a long period of time. The business owner should start with an attorney to develop a legal organization that is needed. The business owner should also engage the attorney from time to time to review their legal documents and assist in general business matters. The same is true for individuals. In order to develop a relationship with an attorney, the attorney has to be actually employed. From time to time, the individuals should use the attorney to draft their wills, review their estate plans and even look over real estate documents when buying and selling a house. The practice of law is no different than any other business. The paying clients will, of course, get the best service.

While the attorneys in our firm try to return all calls within 24 hours, we must first handle issues for ongoing clients. If you use an attorney from time to time, just knowing an attorney’s name and not engaging them does not establish a relationship. In order to establish a relationship with an attorney, you have to hire them to handle your legal matters. When a serious matter arises, you would then have the name of someone who most likely will be able to guide you in the right direction. An attorney that you have a relationship developed with should be able to direct you to the right person to handle other legal matters that may arise in the event that such should occur. Developing a relationship with a general business attorney or a general practitioner is not difficult. The majority of the attorneys are involved in the community. They belong to churches, clubs, coach youth baseball leagues and are involved in a number of organizations. If you develop a relationship with the attorney in advance and over time by using their services, you will not find yourself having to cold call an attorney that may not handle or have the experience in the type of matter for which you are seeking assistance.

Managing legal costs should never be equated with finding the cheapest car. Your attorney should be your most trusted confidante.

Stephen Fuller is the managing partner of Fuller Sloan, LLC and has practice in business litigation and consulting for 37 years and has over 25 years representation of the founder of one of the largest sit-down casual restaurants in America. For more information, email info@fullersloan.com.

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