Where do I start?
There are a number of ways to find a lawyer:
- word of mouth
- referral services.
See the Legal representation webpage for other ways.
Word of mouth
If you know someone who has had a good experience with a lawyer, check out the lawyer and be sure to say that a previous happy customer recommended you.
Remember, sometimes a "good" lawyer is not always the one with the nicest manner - you might want someone to fight hard for your rights, and this can be more important than a pleasant "bedside manner". So decide what you need, and then match the lawyer to those needs.
Ask the person who has recommended the lawyer a few questions. For example,
- How do you know the lawyer?
- What sort of problem did the lawyer deal with?
- What are their weaknesses?
- Do they return phone calls promptly?
- Did the lawyer keep you well informed about the progress of the case?
- How did it turn out in the end?
- Were you satisfied with that outcome?
It is only recently that lawyers have been allowed to advertise. Many lawyers are only now starting to use advertising to promote their services.
When you look at any advertising, make sure you read any fine print and use it as an introduction. If it sounds good check it out. You don't have to make a commitment.
How can I get a referral to a lawyer?
There are many ways that you can be referred to a lawyer.
Referrals can come from other professionals, eg sometimes your accountant, insurance agent, or even your employer may be able to recommend a good lawyer. It would be a good idea to ask the same questions we mentioned above.
If you belong to a trade union, you should always check whether the union could assist with your problem. Unions often have strong connections to particular lawyers, who may offer a discount, and some unions even provide their own legal advice to members (especially if the problem concerns your work).
Other referral services are offered by:
How do I find the right lawyer?
You need a lawyer who is experienced in the type of problem you have. For example, a lawyer may be able to make a will or do the paperwork to sell your house - this does not necessarily mean they can help you with a divorce and property settlement.
Now, lawyers tend to specialise in certain areas of the law. They can do this in two ways:
- They focus in one area of work and become experienced in that area.
- They become "accredited specialists." This means they have passed a series of special exams. If a lawyer is an accredited specialist they will usually advertise this on their brochures and letterhead.
Just as you do not need to see a medical specialist for a cold, you do not need to see a legal specialist for a routine problem. However, it is important that the lawyer has experience handling the sort of problem you have. You should ask the lawyer whether they are experienced in dealing with problems like yours. Look at Questions you should ask your lawyer.
You should feel comfortable with your lawyer. Not all lawyers are good communicators, but make sure that the lawyer will take a personal interest in your problem.
Look for a lawyer who listens carefully to your problem and keeps you informed about the progress of your case.
What if I can't afford a lawyer?
You may be able to get free or low cost legal assistance from:
Where can I get more information?
For more information about working with lawyers look at:
Last review: 14/03/2013