I receive calls frequently from friends, business colleagues and even former clients needing advice on choosing the right attorney for whatever legal matter they might have. Many of our clients assume that because we represented them in their automobile accident that we would be able to represent them in their divorce or their bankruptcy. When I explain that we do not routinely practice in certain areas of law, they often seem very disappointed. I had a client tell me recently, “Well I’m just so comfortable with your law firm, and I don’t want to dive into a relationship with another lawyer.”
After that conversation, it occurred to me that choosing the right lawyer really is an emotional endeavor for many people. The mere fact that you need a lawyer almost always means that there is something negative occurring in your life. For that reason, potential clients are already dealing with stress – stress of an automobile accident; stress of an impending divorce or bankruptcy; stress of a business deal gone wrong; or stress of losing a loved one because of someone else’s negligence. That stress level is only intensified by having to choose the right attorney to understand your situation and represent you to the full extent of the law. It can become a very difficult decision.
We, as attorneys and legal staff, sometimes forget how much of an emotional decision it is for potential clients to choose the right attorney. We can talk about our credentials and our awards and how many cases we have won; but at the end of the day, it becomes more about the emotional connection between a client and an attorney. It is very important to our law firm that our clients trust in us and trust in their decision to select our firm to represent them. This is a duty we do not take lightly.
You can Google “Questions to Ask Your Potential Lawyer,” and you will find responses like, “How long have you practiced law?” and “Who is your typical client?” or “How many cases have you won?” and even “What will you charge me for your services?” While these questions and answers may be important, I believe that most people select an attorney and the law firm that will fight for their cause based more on an emotional connection. When your lawyer can sit across a conference room table and look you straight in the eye and tell you that he or she will fight for you and you feel confident in those words – that is when you know you have chosen the right lawyer. When your lawyer tells you that he or she will always be honest with you – even when that means that they will tell you things you may not want to hear – that is when you know you have chosen the right lawyer. And when your lawyer’s staff holds your hand and lets you vent your frustrations or cry your tears – you will know you have selected the right law firm.
While prestigious law degrees and special awards are great credentials for choosing a lawyer, it is that special emotional connection that might be the key in knowing that you made the right choice. After all, your relationship with your attorney may be one of the most important relationships you will ever have.