Guide to Selecting the Right Attorney
Clients have an important choice to make when selecting an attorney to represent them. The average person will only be involved in one or two serious legal disputes in their entire life. The chances are, that if the dispute requires legal attention, it is significant for our clients and the outcome could be long-lasting or even life-changing. Since most people are not familiar with the legal process, they are nervous about selecting the right attorney. Below are nine tips to remember when selecting an attorney:
When selecting an attorney, it is important to find one with experience who understands the legal process and can anticipate what the other side will do. An experienced attorney has handled more cases, practiced longer and will not be surprised by the other side’s approach and strategy. An experienced attorney will also be better suited to evaluate claims, defenses and settlement offers because they have encountered those time and time again. A qualified and seasoned attorney will receive the respect of the Judge and jury when appearing in court. Often times, an experienced attorney will receive the benefit of the doubt from the Court on a ruling or may receive more attention from the Court when presenting a case. An attorney’s time, experience and intelligence is his stock and trade. Generally, one should be wary about hiring an attorney with less than five years practice experience. There are exceptions to this general rule. However, if one hires an attorney with less than five years experience, they run the risk of hiring an attorney who is not ready to handle their case or battle the other side. The attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group have fifty years of combined practice experience.
It is important that you hire an attorney in Monterey that has experience handling your type of case or that your attorney works with other attorneys who have experience in that area. The legal process is the same for most civil lawsuits. In other words, the way a case travels through the court system, and the procedural part of that system, do not change dramatically. What does change in each case, is the law being applied and the individuals involved. It is important to have an attorney who has experience with your type of case because this means the attorney will be familiar with the laws and the standards for those types of cases. You wouldn’t hire a brain surgeon to perform your open heart surgery. The same applies to picking an attorney. For example, you would go here for Chicago construction injury lawyers. Even the best attorney in a certain area of law, may not be able to handle your case if he does not typically handle those types of cases. The Monterey attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group limit their practice areas to those types of cases they are comfortable handling and have experience with.
It is important when selecting an attorney that you find an attorney that is accessible, will meet you face to face, and answer all your questions. Everyone understands that attorneys are busy and their time is valuable. So is yours. An attorney should never be too busy to call back his or her clients and provide information regarding your case. Often times, clients hire our firm after firing their former attorney. It is not uncommon for us to hear that our clients never met with their former attorney face to face or that they only spoke to their attorney once. If your attorney does not take the time to meet with you or discuss your case, he is probably not giving your case the attention it deserves. You shouldn’t feel like you are stalking your attorney when you try to talk to him or her. You also shouldn’t be speaking to your attorney’s paralegal or secretary every time you receive a critical development in your case. The Monterey attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group are available to meet with all clients face to face and will return all client calls promptly. We do not have paralegals and secretaries handling important case matters or client communications.
Make sure the attorney you are picking will do the work himself. Many attorneys do nothing more than advertise legal services and then send those cases to other attorneys or law firms for handling. These attorneys are master marketers and advertisers. They would rather spend time developing websites and gathering clients than practicing law. Likewise, many attorneys have novice junior associates handling cases. Worse yet, many attorneys have paralegals or secretaries handling most of their practice and performing the heavy lifting on your case. Ask you attorney if he will be the one handling the everyday aspects of your case, including the legal research and writing and court appearances. It does no good to hire an experienced attorney if he won’t be working on your case. At the Piccuta Law Group, LLP, the attorneys you meet with will handle your case from start to finish, day in and day out. Your case will not be “farmed out” to a different law firm or pawned off on a junior associate with less experience.
When picking an attorney it is important that your attorney has the infrastructure and resources to handle your case. You don’t want to pick an attorney who is running some “fly by night” operation and that won’t be in practice six months later when you call him for a case update or request your file. Your attorney should have the necessary relationships with other attorneys and experts to give you every advantage in prosecuting your case. If your attorney is meeting you at a rented conference room or in the garage of his mother’s house, perhaps it’s time for you to reconsider. The attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group, LLP will meet you at their dedicated office in downtown Monterey to evaluate your legal claims. The Monterey office has state of the art computing capabilities and a dedicated server which allows the attorneys to access every client file electronically while at court hearings or not in the office.
When picking an attorney it is important that you check that attorney’s standing with the State Bar and his or her disciplinary record. This can be accomplished by utilizing the attorney search engine on the State Bar of California website. Only hire an attorney that is admitted to practice in the State of California with an active license in “good standing.” If the attorney you are hiring is licensed in other states, you should check those states for standing and disciplinary records as well. Be wary about hiring an attorney with disciplinary violations on his or her record. The state bar associations govern and police the conduct of member attorneys for the benefit of clients and consumers. If an attorney has disciplinary violations, there is a strong probability that he or she conducted his or her practice in a way that was detrimental to a client. Don’t risk this when selecting an attorney and only higher an attorney with a clean disciplinary record. All Monterey attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group, LLP have no disciplinary violations and are in good standing with their respective state bars.
When picking at attorney, make sure the attorney you select maintains a proper legal malpractice insurance policy. This will not be important if your attorney does his job competently and professionally. However, in the event that your attorney makes a major mistake or error with respect to your case, you may be able to seek recovery through your attorney’s malpractice insurance policy. Attorneys in California may represent clients without legal malpractice insurance. However, if an attorney does so, he must notify the client in writing that he doesn’t have legal malpractice insurance at the time of the engagement. Ca.R.Pro.Con. 3-410. Ask this question directly of your attorney and do not allow the disclosure of non-insurance to be hidden away in the legal representation contract prepared by the attorney. The Piccuta Law Group, LLP maintains a professional liability insurance Policy as an added benefit to clients.
When picking an attorney, select one with a strong academic background. Although a good attorney can come from any academic background, it benefits a client to select an attorney with a strong academic background. Since the legal profession is largely academic, opposing counsel and the judges give more credibility and respect to attorneys who earned degrees from recognized law schools. Admission to top law schools is extremely competitive and top tier law schools strive to admit the best and brightest. Attorneys who went to top flight law schools are likely a cut above other attorneys who did not gain admittance. The attorneys at the Piccuta Law Group graduated from top tier law schools with academic honors.
When picking an attorney look for an attorney that has published results and decisions. Published results and decisions are a good indication that your attorney regularly practices litigation and handles important matters worthy of publication. The attorneys at Piccuta Law Group, LLP have several published decisions and results from the many cases they have worked on over the years.