Dan’s Top Tips:
How to Find the Best Attorney
By Daniel Callahan
If you’re looking to hire an attorney, a Google search will have you reeling with just how many options you have! And, as one of California’s top trial attorneys, I’m here to tell you, not all attorneys are created equal.
Where to Look for an Attorney Online
After conducting a preliminary Google Search, when you find an attorney near you as well as in the field of expertise you need, check out the firm’s website for a list of verdicts and settlements. If they have them, they will be highlighted front and center on their website. If you can’t find their verdicts and settlements, I’d move on to another listing.
Next, make sure your attorney is highly rated through numerous peer review journals and outlets. Here are the top three I recommend checking:
Looking for a Trial Attorney?
If you’re looking for a trial attorney, make sure the lawyer has trial experience so the defendant will fear them. Moreover, the best settlements come when the opposition knows you will go to trial.
If you’re looking for a personal injury attorney, make sure the personal injury expert attorney also has a thorough knowledge of insurance. Insurance often pays the settlement and the lawyer must know all the coverages and exclusions.
Beware of Settlement Mills
Meet with the attorney and assess his or her trial team. Make sure the attorney has significant results from past cases and the capacity to handle your case.
Be careful you are not being represented in a mill. What’s a mill? I’m glad you asked. They are everywhere – and are often the “big name” firms on billboards and TV commercials with 1-800 numbers. A “Settlement Mill” is a seemingly high-powered legal firm that handles cases, but rarely goes to trial (which is why insurance companies love them because they know the firm will take smaller amounts of money in order to move on to the next case). They take on numerous cases, do the bare minimum, and work only to settle your case as quickly as possible – meaning, they aren’t fighting to get you top dollar.
Interview at Least 3 Attorneys
Clarify which attorney is primarily responsible for handling your case. There are typically several others involved in your case, including junior attorneys, and paralegals with lower rates. If this happens, confirm that you are being charged for the appropriate rate for the person doing the work.
5 Questions to Ask Your Attorney:
- What are your fees, or contingency structure?
- What is your win percentage?
- What is the chance that I receive a favorable outcome?
- What are the risks if the case does fail? What fees are associated if you don’t win my case?
- What are the odds of a settlement? And how long should I expect my case to take?
How Often Should I Talk to My Lawyer?
Insist on periodic review of your case, initially once a month, thereafter quarterly. Rather than calling your attorney everytime time a question pops into your mind (which can get costly!), make a list of all thoughts and questions so that they can be covered during the periodic review. And remember, do not speak to the defendant or defendant’s insurance adjuster without your attorney present.
Relax. Let Your Attorney Do the work
Try to relax and allow the attorney to represent you fully. And finally, hiring a cheap lawyer may feel good in the moment, but can cost you in the end. Oh, and finally (again!) – don’t hire a friend or neighbor. Just because you know them, doesn’t mean they are the right person to handle your case.
This blog post is not legal advice, and should not be treated as such. The opinions expressed here are meant purely for an educational discussion and as general information only.
About the Author
Daniel J. Callahan has distinguished himself as one of the top trial attorneys in California, and has repeatedly been recognized by his peers for his incredible accomplishments. Mr. Callahan was the winner of the prestigious OCTLA Trial Lawyer of the Year Award three times, in 2000, 2004, and 2012 and has been named one of the Top 10 Attorneys in the United States by the National Law Journal. He was voted California Business Trial Lawyer of the Year by California Lawyer Magazine. In addition, Mr. Callahan has been named one of the Top 100 trial lawyers by the American Trial Association, featured in the Best Lawyers in America for sixteen years straight, 2005-2021 and listed by Super Lawyers as one of The Top 10 Lawyers in Southern California for 2013.