Thursday, April 20, 2006

Out Swimming The Sharks: Helpful tips when you HAVE to hire an Attorney

Regardless of what most people believe, the best attorneys are not always exjudges, exmayors, exdistrict attorneys, outrageously expensive, or work for large well known law firms. Having worked in the legal "industry" for over 15 years now, I have found the best attorneys have the RARE ability to place YOUR legal matter and YOUR needs OVER their economic desires and ego.

When searching for an attorney it is imperative that YOU and YOUR ATTORNEY understand exactly what your needs are. Much like medicine, the legal field has become increasingly complex and specialized. Law is broken down into many different specialties, i.e. Criminal, Civil, Personal Injury, Bankruptcy, Real Estate, Family, etc., etc. It is important to search for the particular attorney that is knowledgeable and experienced in YOUR field.

Your relationship with your an attorney is an important and usually close one. You often share very personal information with them and being able to trust the one you hire is one of the most important considerations. When close friends ask me how I would go about choosing an attorney, I explain to them, that I would choose 2 or 3 who were referred to me by people I PERSONALLY know utilized their services. Simply KNOWING a particular attorney or having one in the family is simply not enough for me in this day and age.

As each attorney has their own style and personality, I would interview each of them and see which one best suited my needs. I would closely examine how accessible each ATTORNEY (and not their STAFF) was for me to communicate with; and if they seemed to truly care about what my legal needs and expected outcome was. I would see if their fees were "reasonable" for their particular knowledge, experience and years in practice. I would check CALBAR.ORG to see if they have ever been disciplined by the State Bar of California

Not a week goes by where I do not receive a phone call, from a Gay or Lesbian or Transgendered or HIV Positive person that was afraid to disclose some or all of this information to their attorney and let their attorney know of their needs in this regard. Why is this important? It is important as these qualifiers often can significantly effect your particular legal situation greatly.

Are GAY attorneys always the best attorneys for Gay people? No, they are not. Trust me, their are plenty of bad Gay attorneys, as there are plenty of bad heterosexual ones as well. But the best attorneys take the time to get to know you as a client and will NEVER treat you with disrespect and ignore your specific needs and those of your loved ones.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is YOUR attorney works for YOU and not vice versa. They should not be difficult to get a hold of; should return your calls promptly and counsel you and take the time you pay for to keep you informed about your legal matter.