Almost everything we do is affected by laws. There are so many laws that it would take a person with an average reading skill over a thousand years just to read the law book. As if we have nothing else to do with our lives but read laws. So what do we do when a legal situation arises? Do we handle it ourselves or do we call a lawyer who’s been trained in the legal field? For many people, the thought of calling a lawyer may be frightening. Sometimes they might not even know if they need a lawyer or how to even choose one, so they might avoid contacting a lawyer even when it is in their best interests to do so. However, do your homework before you hire a lawyer for yourself and/or your business. At the time when you are faced with serious legal or medical problems, you still need to make a good, informed decision about who will represent you. And it doesn’t have to be as hard or as costly as you may think to find a good lawyer. Provided below are some quick tips that can take the stress out of finding a lawyer.
Can I represent myself?
You have the right to represent yourself. However, the law is extremely complex and changes frequently. Unless you dedicate 100% of your time into educating yourself with all of the laws and legal procedures relevant to your case, you stand a good chance of losing. You may very easily overlook a legal aspect affecting your case that may sometimes bring unanticipated legal consequences that can be difficult and expensive to undo. So, you need to weigh the risks and benefits of representing yourself vs. hiring a lawyer to represent your case.
When do I contact a lawyer?
When faced with a problem that you think it needs legal attention, you may wish to consult with a lawyer about your legal rights and responsibilities as soon as possible. Many states have deadlines for filing lawsuits especially for personal injuries. These so called “statute of limitations” laws are designed to encourage people to promptly come forward and present their case. But this doesn’t mean that you have to simply pick the first lawyer you bump into because you’re in a hurry, as you will learn from these tips.
How do I choose the “right” lawyer for me?
From a personal aspect, selecting a lawyer is always a personal matter. But, as with any service providers, the lawyer is just providing his/her service to his/her client. So, the lawyer-client relationship needs be based on trust and open and honest communication so the lawyer could provide the best of his/her service. It requires a mutual commitment from both the client and the lawyer. If the client is not cooperating fully, the lawyer could not provide the best of his/her service. At the same time, if the lawyer is not easily accessible and prompt in responding to your phone calls, emails, and requests, you’re going to get nothing but frustration. Hence, when choosing the “right” lawyer for your case you need to feel 100% comfortable when talking to that lawyer and feel confident in his or her abilities. If there’s even a single doubt, you need to keep looking. Your case is too important to entrust to someone who does not inspire your confidence.
From a professional aspect, people often believe that simply any lawyer could handle any case. This misleading confidence frequently works to the client’s disadvantage. No lawyer is skilled in every area of the law. So, to find the “right” lawyer for your case you need not to be shy about asking your prospective lawyer questions until you gain full confidence in his or her ability. Only then would you select that lawyer. Actually, while asking the questions, you’ll be able to observe the lawyer’s responsiveness and readiness to cooperate with you. Some of the most important questions you need to ask your prospective lawyer when going through the selection process are:
– What amount of experience do you have in this area of the law (the area of your legal need)?
– Will you or one of your associates handle my case? – if an associate handles your case, that’s the person you need to interview.
– How many cases like mine have you handled? – ask for specifics for each of the cases.
– Could you provide me with references from some or each of the cases? – make sure you call each of the clients to learn about their experience.
A responsible and a caring lawyer would have no problems providing you with answers. If the lawyer is giving you runarounds for each of the questions and not providing you with specific answers, you need to keep looking. Also, always check with your State Bar Association if that lawyer has been the subject of an ethical complaint or inquiry.
Where do I find a lawyer?
No matter where you look for a lawyer, always keep in mind the above tip for choosing the right lawyer for you. Nevertheless, here are a few places to look for a lawyer:
– Yellow Pages and Advertisements – When you open your local yellow pages doesn’t it seem like the doctors and the lawyers cover the half of the book with advertisements? It almost looks as if they’re the only ones having the money for full blown ad pages. Speaking of ads, unless you have a marketing/sales knowledge and experience, you would never know how advertisements work. The advertisements are developed to psychologically trigger your emotional senses and make you respond to the call of action of the ad. It’s a science of its own. So, you as an average consumer would have no idea which advertisement is telling the truth and which has the truth blown out of proportion. But, this is a very good place to at least get some names and phone numbers from local lawyers and start your selection process.
– Your Society Circle – Your family, friends, people you work with, people you talk to, people you know of … start asking around. This is one of your most reliable sources. You will have a chance to get the first hand experience. Someone who has been in a same or a similar situation could tell you about their experience (good or bad) with their lawyer. If their experience has been nothing but good, you have a half of your work done. And even if no one in your society circle could refer you to a lawyer, they might know of someone else from their society circle who might have been in a similar situation. Some of the most reliable referrals come from people you trust – fellow business owners, friends and family – who have used lawyers recently. Word of mouth from a satisfied customer generally is very reliable.
– Bar Associations – This is another reliable source. Your local attorney bar association may maintain an attorney referral service, which is a list of their members by specialty who will consult with you for free or at a special rate set by the bar association for the first conference. The Bar Association could also tell you if a lawyer has been a subject of an ethical complaint or inquiry from past clients.
– The Internet – Indeed the Internet. But, this is your least reliable source because everything could be put on the ‘net. However, just like with advertisements, you could use the Internet to at least get you a list of local lawyers practicing in your problem area so you could start the selection process. On the Internet, search for lawyer directories, such as Martindale.com; lawyer referral services, such as LegalMatch.com; people/business finding services, such as Anywho.com; and simply your favorite search engine.
Disclaimer: The author and publisher of this article have done their best to give you useful, informative and accurate information. This article does not represent nor replace the legal advice you need to get from a lawyer, or other professional if the content of the article involves an issue you are facing. Laws vary from state-to-state and change from time-to-time. Always consult with a qualified professional before making any decisions about the issues described in this article. Thank you.
Lawyers face the same challenges any business does. In order to get new business they must market their services, i.e., advertise. And lawyers deal with the same marketing and advertising challenge every business does – how to beat the competition. Plus lawyers have to assume that any Internet or non-Internet marketing or advertising they do may well produce little or no results for the amount of time and money they spend — regardless of what an outside marketing or advertising advisor may say to the contrary.
Prior to the Internet the main non-Internet marketing option or advertising choice for any lawyer was to advertise in the yellow pages. To this day the print yellow pages contain plenty of colorful, one page display ads that feature lawyers offering their services, and lawyers pay a lot for these ads. How effective these ads are is anyone’s guess — it’s hard for your colored, one page display ad to stand out when you have 20 other lawyers doing the exact same thing! The yellow pages companies, however, continue to promote their marketing and advertising philosophy that “bigger is always better” and “everything we sell is an opportunity,” so they often present a lawyer with a non-Internet marketing and advertising solution that costs plenty but often produces little.
This line of thinking, along with the use of print yellow pages in general, has gone the way of the dinosaur at a very accelerated pace. The yellow pages in print form had their heyday for many decades, but the population now goes to the Internet for the information they seek, so most print directories are collecting dust. A lawyer who advertises in the print yellow pages may well get calls, but they’ll most likely be from vendors using the yellow pages as a cheap source of leads.
The major paid search providers (pay per click search engines) tend to offer lawyers Internet marketing and advertising solutions in a manner similar to the way the yellow pages do with their print directories. “Bigger is always better,” so rather than realistically discuss with a lawyer a pay per click Internet marketing and advertising campaign that makes financial sense and produces a decent ROI, the pay per click providers will tell the lawyer to go for as many top listing keywords (the most expensive) as their budget will permit and bid as high as they can. The lawyer may go broke in the process, but at least they’ll get exposure! Many lawyers get into pay per click as a quick way to get leads but quickly exit a month later after spending lots of money for Internet marketing and advertising results that produce nothing but expense.
While pay per click Internet marketing and advertising is the running favorite of Internet marketing advertisers worldwide, pay per click advertising for a lawyer is usually an extremely expensive proposition for what they get. How much a lawyer is willing to “pay for a lead” takes on a whole new meaning with pay per click. The cost per click for many lawyer related keywords, e.g., “personal injury lawyer,” “criminal defense lawyer,” can range from $5.00 to $70.00 per click depending on the market, and when the typical lawyer’s conversion rate (the number of clicks it takes to generate a lead) of one to two percent is factored in, the lawyer can find themselves paying upwards of $500.00 to $7,000.00 per lead, and a lead is not a client.
Part of the problem lawyers face when they work with pay per click (and this translates directly into poor conversion rates) is that (1) they spend little time creating their pay per click ads and (2) the ads direct traffic to the lawyer’s website. Any Internet marketing professional who knows something about pay per click knows you never send pay per click traffic to a website. Instead you create special pages, i.e., “landing pages” for pay per click traffic to be directed to. The landing pages perform the job of convincing traffic to do what the lawyer requires, which is normally to contact the lawyer via e-mail or by phone.
Legal Internet directories and portals offer the lawyer a potential Internet marketing and advertising option because of their popularity and enhanced Internet visibility. How effective a listing in a legal Internet directory or portal can be for a lawyer in terms of marketing, advertising and Internet exposure will depend upon the particular attributes of the legal Internet directory or portal in question. All things being equal, legal Internet directories or portals that charge a fee to be listed in them make more sense as an Internet marketing and advertising choice than similar sites that offer listings for free. The lawyer has to be particularly careful, however, when they consider advertising in legal Internet directories and portals that “look” like they offer a lot — and a price to go with it — but for whatever reasons simply do not produce enough leads for the amount of Internet marketing and advertising money the lawyer must spend.
Many legal Internet directories and portals exist that have a very strong Internet presence, and they are excellent resource centers for lawyers, but this does not automatically make them good places to advertise. With Internet legal portals especially it’s not how many lawyers the portal attracts but how many people the Internet legal portal attracts who are searching for legal services. People have paid thousands of dollars for advertising in Internet legal portals that have produced nothing in the way of Internet marketing and advertising results. A very wise idea for any lawyer who considers advertising in an Internet legal portal is to get some very accurate user demographics on what kind of specific traffic the Internet legal portal is actually attracting.
What is a lawyer supposed to do? Everywhere the lawyer looks, whether the marketing and advertising media is Internet or non-Internet, considerable financial risk is involved, and a guarantee that the lawyer will get good, solid results for the amount of money they spend is often hard to achieve.
Ultimately the best way for a lawyer to go with Internet marketing and advertising – the way that will ultimately get them the best long term results for the money they spend — is to focus on getting their website to rank high in organic search results. When all things are considered, people on the Internet who search for goods and services mainly search for websites to find their answers. They may look to legal Internet directories and portals, and if they don’t find what they want they may turn to pay per click listings as a last resort (only about 30% to 40% of users bother with pay per click) but ultimately people who search the Internet are looking for websites that provide them with the answers they seek.
If a lawyer is looking for an Internet marketing and advertising solution that doesn’t require being part of the pay per click crowd, the lawyer may want to look into pay per phone call programs. Pay per phone call is like pay per click, but the lawyer does not pay for a call unless they receive one. And the costs for pay per phone call are normally substantially less that what the lawyer will pay for a click in many cases. A smart lawyer may even want to consider getting involved with several pay per phone call providers with the idea that between the providers the lawyer will receive enough leads in the aggregate to make involvement with these programs worth it.
Many of the Internet marketing and advertising solutions that a lawyer chooses to look into must be tried on a case by case basis. Absolutely nothing can be assumed. A pay per click advertising campaign that works extremely well for the lawyer with one search provider might fail miserably with another.
One last thing that a lawyer should be aware of when it comes to the Internet and a website presence is that appearances really do count. Many people have been on the Internet for 10 years and have correspondingly seen websites of all types and styles. People are used to seeing professionally designed websites. The lawyer’s website should be too.
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