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squirbel's avatar

I'd like to hire an attorney, but I have no clue how to go about it?

Asked by squirbel (4164points) November 16th, 2010

I have several questions.

1. What is the phrase that’s used to refer to an “attorney you’ve hired and pay regularly in case something happens?”
2. Can one attorney act in several roles; ie general legal matters, small claims if needed, estate handling?
3. How do I find a reputable attorney in my current state of residence?
4. My family has an attorney, but he’s old and in my home state, and I don’t think he’ll be any help to me. Is that so? I am detached from my family, so it’s not like it would matter anyway.
5. What are the fees, typically?
6. Would he be available at any time for me to call him up and ask him a question?
7. What’s the best way to go about finding a reputable attorney? ‘Phone book attorneys are no good’, my dad told me once. Asked it already >.<

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4 Answers

CyanoticWasp's avatar

1. retainer
2. Most attorneys can handle civil work, but like any professional, some are better qualified for certain tasks than others. For the things you’ve described in the 2nd question, “family and civil law” practices should be good.
3. They’re all reputable… some are just more reputable than others. Really, the best advertising is by word of mouth. Talk to someone who recently closed on a home purchase, for example, and ask what their experience was like with their attorney, and whether they’d call on him again for other work.
4. Your family attorney may be able to give you advice on someone who could serve your needs in your area. Attorneys can sometimes give good references, too.
5. No idea, but you should ask. Many smaller firms offer “free interview” visits for each of you to get acquainted, so the attorney can decide whether he wants you as a client, too.
6. He sells his time, so you’d get a bill for (most likely) a one-hour consultation. You’re not just paying for the time he talks to you on the phone. He has to research responses and case law sometimes, retain notes of the conversation and his response, pay for his office and staff, etc.
7. All attorneys are in the phone book, so your dad’s advice is… suspect. But it’s true that you can get better references from friends who have used attorneys (not friends “who have a brother who went to law school once”), and professionals who use their services.

Someone in business—nearly any business at all—can often give good referrals to people that they have specific experience with.

squirbel's avatar

Thanks! Retainer was the term I was looking for… I knew whatever it was I was looking for began with an “R”. xD

Thank you @CyanoticWasp.

iamthemob's avatar

This site may be helpful in determining lawyers to avoid. Pretty much everything else was covered, accurately, by @CyanoticWasp above. However, there are many attorneys that will consult you for free.

YARNLADY's avatar

Call legal aid in your area, or there might be a Lawyer Referral service, which vets the lawyers before allowing them to list. You might also ask at your place of employment, my husbands company has a lawyer referral service as an employee benefit.

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