Friday, January 16, 2009

Selecting an Attorney who will Advocate for you

Today I want to speak on the subject of selecting an attorney.

One of the most widely used methods of selecting an attorney is the phone book. It shows too. All you need do is look who is on the cover, the spine and has the largest ads. The Internet is becoming a more common venue for selecting an attorney however. The Google ad boxes are filled with their names and their website usually return near the top on any search you are likely making.

Accessing their websites allows you to usually find out much more about your prospective attorney than a simple phone call in which you will likely only speak to a secretary or paralegal anyway. There are also numerous other resources on the web that can help you learn about attorneys. The first site you will visit is the Indiana Supreme Court's Disciplinary Commission to see if any complaints have been filed against the attorney and any disciplinary actions by the Commission.

Other web resources include discussion forums and newspaper reports. Do a search for the name of the attorney including the state. Then narrow your search for specific topics you are interested in. Add “best I ever used”, “ripped me off”, “lost my case”, “got custody of my child” and so forth. This should allow you to find what others who have used this attorney are saying.

The attorney you select to work for you is going to be your attorney. This is going to be the person who represents you. Your attorney is an extension of you. When you chose a new car you want something that fits you, that represents who you are and you take a few for a test drive before buying one. This is the same way you should approach hiring an attorney. You are passionate about your case and your attorney should be also.

The type of case you have will also dictate what attorney you will use. The most advertised are personal injury attorneys and those who represent drunk drivers. Family law is also a common area of practice as is criminal defense. I believe that there are times when a general practice attorney may be appropriate just as with a doctor. However, there are other times that you would want a specialist. If you get audited by the IRS you will want a tax attorney. If you are involved in a large land acquisition and a development corporation then you will want a corporate attorney with knowledge of real estate.

Most of you reading this are involved in some type of family law case. You may be facing a criminal charge of non support of a dependent, just received a complaint for divorce, are fighting a custody battle or are seeking a modification of court ordered child support payments after losing your job. To many attorneys these cases are just the bread and butter of their industry. They have no personal stake in the results. There is nothing that compares to your interest here, especially in a custody case. You must find an attorney that can empathize with you and is passionate about what you believe in and are going through.

I have helped many people with their attorneys either in the selections process or during the progression of their case. On thing that I find myself doing more than anything else is making sure that the clients' attorney is being an advocate for him or her. More so than working on making sure that all argument and strategy has been vetted is making sure that the attorney is eagerly seeking to ensure that every option has been considered and that new concepts are never overlooked.

On the Boone County Child Advocates website we have now added a judges and attorneys page with member submitted content about their experiences with these people. We invite you to submit a brief synopsis of your experiences with judges and attorneys. Please click on the BCCA banner below to go to this page.

No one will be more passionate about your case than you. For this reason you may want to represent yourself. I will speak about that next week. But for now, unless you have significant experience and knowledge of the law then you will want to use an attorney. Your attorney must be an extension of you not just someone to hold your hand. If you select an attorney and he or she doesn't fit then you need to move on. There is far more riding on this than just going with what stands out in the phonebook.

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©2008, 2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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