There are 10 traits every attorney should have. When you have a pressing legal issue and need an attorney, you should look for an attorney with these characteristics:
There is a very good reason why our law firm's motto is "Clients First. Always." Our focus is on providing exceptional legal service to each and every one of our clients. If your attorney worries more about his bottom line or the press coverage that he receives, it's time to find a new attorney.
Your attorney should be an expert in that particular area of law. For example, you don't want to hire an environmental lawyer to prepare your estate plan.
Communicates with you
One of the biggest complaints I hear about attorneys is that some of them do not return clients' calls or answer their emails. It shouldn't be that way. Your attorney, or a member of her staff, should return your phone call or reply to your email within two business days.
Your attorney should work diligently on your case, not let it languish for months. If your attorney has too many clients or an unexplained lack of focus on your case, he will probably not provide the best legal work for you.
Your attorney should work as efficiently as possible on your case in order to keep costs down and attorney fees reasonable.
Speaks in plain English, not legalese
The law can be complex, but it's an attorney's job to explain your legal issues in a way that you understand. Ask questions! I tell my clients that the only "stupid" question is the one that's not asked.
Is up front about attorney fees
How much will you be charged? Are you being billed a flat fee, by the hour, or on a contingency basis? What retainer is required? How often will you receive an invoice? Your attorney should answer those questions honestly and without hesitation. You should receive an engagement letter or fee agreement which clearly spells out how and when you will charged for the legal work in your case.
Does not make promises that she cannot keep
Beware of attorneys who make promises that they can't keep. For example, an attorney should not guarantee that you will win your case in court.
Truly cares about you, the client
Your attorney should care about you and want to help you with your legal need. As attorneys, we are providing a service, and that service should be provided to clients in a personal, caring way.
Last, but certainly not least, your attorney should not have any sanctions or a criminal record. This sounds like a no brainer, but people often hire a lawyer, not knowing that he/she has been disciplined for misconduct or is under criminal investigation. You can search an Ohio attorney's discipline history on the Ohio Supreme Court's website. Criminal information is also public record, so a Google search of the attorney is highly recommended.
So, does your attorney measure up? If not, it may be time to look for a new lawyer!