How do I choose a Lawyer?
Before you make an appointment to see a lawyer, call the offices of the lawyers on your list. Find out with whom you are speaking, briefly explain your legal problem and ask:
• Does the lawyer have experience with this kind of problem?
• Does the lawyer charge for an initial interview? If so, what is the charge?
• If you believe your problem is routine: Does the lawyer have a standard fee for this kind of problem? What does the fee cover?
• If your problem is more complicated or the lawyer does not have a standard fee: What is the lawyer’s hourly fee?
• Does the lawyer provide a written agreement describing fees and services provided for the fees?
What if I cannot afford a lawyer?
• You will not know whether or not you can afford a lawyer until you have called a lawyer’s office or visited with a lawyer.
• If you are a person who has a very modest or low income, there is probably a legal aid or legal services office near you that can help you. These offices provide attorneys at low or no fee to eligible persons with low incomes.
• To locate the nearest legal aid office, call your local bar association, or the State Bar of Texas in Austin at 1-800-204-2222 ext. 2155. If criminal law is involved, a person who cannot afford an attorney may ask the judge to appoint a lawyer to represent him or her.
How do I find the name of a lawyer?
• Ask a friend – especially one who has had a problem like yours, for the name of his or her lawyer.
• Ask a professional person, such as a doctor, minister, social worker, banker, or business person whom you know and trust.
• Visit your local library and look at a law directory such as the Texas Legal Directory or Martindale-Hubbell. Directories give a brief biography of lawyers practicing in your area and elsewhere.
• Telephone directories contain listings of attorneys in your area. Some attorneys will list the areas of law in which they prefer to practice. Others show themselves as being “board certified” in one or more specific areas of law, which means that the lawyer has met certain criteria established by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
What should I ask the lawyer on my first visit?
Prepare a list of questions for the lawyer, such as:
• Are you specialized and/or experienced in my type of problem?
• Will you or one of your associates be handling my case?
• Will you regularly contact me about my case’s status?
• Will I be provided with copies of all important documents, and will there be a charge for those documents?
• Will I be able to make the final decision on my case?
• What is your estimate of time needed to complete my case