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How to Hire a Lawyer

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Chances are you’ll probably have to hire a lawyer at some point in your life. It might be to go to court, it might be to fight a copyright infringement, it might be when you first buy a home to help with the convergence and change of ownership. There are so many different types of lawyers, from criminal lawyers right through to compensation lawyers.

The truth is many people are afraid of lawyers or resent them. Lawyers, in general, have a pretty bad reputation.

I actually worked as an office assistant at a law firm for a year and saw the best and worst of them.

You see, after I studied my bachelor of Science I decided to study a year of law. I wanted to be a lawyer, well at least I thought I did. I liked arguing and I liked money, so studying law was the obvious choice. After working in the law firm as an OA for a year, my soul had been drained away and I quickly realised money wasn’t the most important thing. Working with lawyers, however, taught me a lot about what to look for in a lawyer.

1) Conduct a Few Interviews
Meet a few different lawyers, don’t simply go with the first one you see. You need to spend the time hunting around to see who you feel will have your best interests in mind. Sometimes it takes meeting some “bad” candidates to really make the good ones stand out. Chances are, if you’re working with a lawyer, you’re going to be paying them quite a lot of money so you want to spend the time ensuring you’re making a good investment. A good lawyer is a good investment that can pay for itself over and over.

2) Ask Other Lawyers
The legal community tends to be quite tightly linked because of the nature of the law and the legal system. That means it’s very likely that most lawyers know each other in the legal community. You can ask for some suggestions of good lawyers from other lawyers to see:

a) How they talk about other people. If you find a lawyer that bad mouths every other lawyer you ask about, then there might be something a bit off about them
b) Who they recommend. If a few lawyers suggest the same person for your requirements, then chances are they might be a good fit for you

If you feel uncomfortable about asking a lawyer about their competitors, you can send an email to an attorney or company that’s in a different town or city from where you are located, but nearby, asking for suggestions. For example, I have a friend in Auckland and I needed to consult a lawyer in Christchurch, so I emailed my lawyer friend in Auckland for some suggestions of good lawyers down here and he sent me a couple. It’s good place to start!

3) Trust your Gut
We are the only species of animals in the world that ignore our gut instinct. Usually when you meet someone, within about the first 20 seconds you get a pretty good indication of how the person makes your feel, whether you can trust them and whether they have your best interests in mind. When you meet a lawyer that you’re looking to hire, focus on how you feel in the first minute of meeting them – generally it’s a good indicator.

4) Don’t be Afraid to Move On
If you find that after some length of time the lawyer is no longer serving your best interest or being the lawyer you need, have a chat to them. If you can’t reach a resolution, move on. There’s no point holding onto a lawyer that is not doing what you need from them, just because you invested some money into them in the beginning.

Have you ever hired a lawyer? How did you find them? And what was your experience like?