Do you know what they call the lowest-scoring student who passes the bar? A lawyer.
You might think if you’ve worked with one lawyer, you’ve worked with all the lawyers. This simply isn’t true. There are good lawyers and there are not-so-good-lawyers. A lawyer who isn’t well-suited for your case is more than just a waste of money. If your legal issues aren’t handled appropriately, it can turn into a real nightmare. The best thing you can do to avoid getting yourself stuck with the wrong attorney is to know the signs of a bad lawyer and avoid one altogether.
To assist you to this end, we’ve put together a quick list of red flags that tell you that you need a new lawyer:
Four Signs That You Need a New Lawyer
- RED FLAG: You feel like you need a marriage therapist to get them to communicate with you.
Working with lawyers is very much like a three-legged race. There are things that you bring to the table and there are things that your attorneys bring to the table, and you have to be able to communicate well to make sure that all the bases are covered. However, if you work with a lawyer who has poor communication skills, you are up a creek without the proverbial paddle. Before ever signing up with a lawyer, take a good, long, hard look at their communication skills:
- Send them an email with a question or two. How long does it take the lawyer to respond to you?
- Call and ask the lawyer’s assistant or paralegal several questions. Then, ask your lawyer the same questions. Are the answers that you’re getting consistent and accurate?
- During your initial consultation, (and don’t get us started on how important it is for a lawyer to offer a free consultation. If they don’t, MOVE ALONG SALLY.) ask complicated questions. Make sure that the style that the lawyer communicates in is cohesive with how you communicate. You’re going to be transferring a lot of information back and forth, the success of your legal issue rides on having a smooth channel of communication.
- RED FLAG: Your OCD gets a little twitchy when you walk into your lawyers office.
Carpenters produce furniture. Plumbers produce plumbing. And lawyers produce paperwork. Documentation is the bread and butter of the legal field. However, if one or two critical pieces of paperwork get mixed up in someone else’s file, the outcome is disastrous. When you walk in the office, if you notice there are stacks of paperwork over here and over there, and everywhere, run — don’t walk — for the exit. If the lawyer doesn’t seem organized or on top of things, this is a bad sign. Save yourself the heartache and get out before it’s too late.
- RED FLAG: You just don’t like the lawyer.
In the movies, you see a lawyer who is a legal genius but misunderstood and disliked. Despite offending everyone who crosses their path, they still manage to untangle the single key that wins their case against all odds. This is fiction. In reality, very much of the success of your case rides on your lawyer being likable. Obviously, if your case goes to trial, you want the jury to bond with your lawyer and find a verdict in your favor. But even if you just have a paperwork-related legal situation, having a likable lawyer will help you have favor throughout the process, and improve the outcome of the legal situation.
If you don’t like your lawyer, there’s a good chance they’ve rubbed other people wrong too. This is not going to help your legal situation.
- RED FLAG: Your lawyer has left a trail of burned bridges behind them.
The best thing you can do while looking for a lawyer is read client reviews and go with someone who has a strong reputation, particularly among people with similar legal situations. If your lawyer has a long list of complaints from past clients, this is a red flag. Keep in mind that some people are impossible to please; a single complaint shouldn’t be a deal breaker. But if you see more negative reviews that positive, don’t make yourself a statistic. Find another lawyer.
Do you have tips for finding a good lawyer? Please share in the comment section below!