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  • Writer's pictureLouw & Heyl

How To Find The Right Attorney


Generally, no one wants to need an attorney, although there are actually lots of positive aspects to our work! We get to witness happy occasions such as the exchange of a property that is about to become a family’s new home, or to assist in the drawing up of documents that may change someone’s life for the better. But how do you go about choosing an attorney, whatever the circumstances?


By area of expertise


First, be clear about what you need your attorney to do and what outcome you are hoping for. There is little point approaching an intellectual property expert for a medical case or a matrimonial lawyer for a commercial deal gone wrong (although arguably in this case, the two might be well suited). Research law firms and then individual lawyers within that firm to find the best professional fit.


By credentials


Once you have found an attorney that seems to fit the bill, do a little more research into their credentials. How long have they been in practice, what is their track record and look for any client testimonials that might be available. Law firms come and law firms go. Choose a law firm that chooses its partners wisely.


By the way in which they communicate


Law firms, the same as everyone else, only have one chance to make a first impression. Your chosen practice should demonstrate courtesy and efficiency from the get-go. From your first point of contact on the phone to your dealings with senior or junior partners, and even the accounts department, look for a firm that responds accurately and timeously to your correspondence. Responses to written correspondence should be thorough and meticulous in detail. If an attorney is not proficient in their communications skills with a potential client, this may very well carry through into their case work and should be a red flag.


By compatibility


You really do not want to have an adversarial relationship with your attorney, especially if you are instigating litigation or being litigated against. That would be too much. You need your relationship with your lawyer to be harmonious and professional, based on trust. Once you have established that on paper they are the right attorney for you, schedule an initial consultation and meet them face to face. Hopefully you will establish a rapport and you can proceed with a formal brief. Remember, your attorney doesn’t have to be your friend, you just have to respect and trust their professional judgement.


Fees


A discussion around fees should form part of your very first meeting. Lawyers generally charge an hourly rate, and they may sometimes, but not always, be able to estimate the number of hours they might expect to spend on a matter. Some cases are obviously more complex than others, especially if litigation is involved, and may therefore be protracted and expensive. Be upfront about your budget and you may be able to reach an agreement on rates, terms and conditions of payment with your lawyer. You don’t want any nasty surprises when your matter is concluded.


Louw & Heyl has a long tradition of selecting highly qualified and well-respected lawyers to be part of the practice and if we meet all your criteria, we would be privileged to represent you. Contact us today.

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