Five Things to Look For When Hiring an Attorney, Part 5: Honest Advice
Hiring an attorney can be an intimidating task, because everyone wants to make sure they find the right lawyer for their case. Not all lawyers are the same. Some attorneys have a better combination of qualities and characteristics that you’d prefer to have in your legal representative.
Over the past few months, we’ve explored five things to look for when hiring an attorney:
All of these traits matter. You want an experienced veteran who is available, knows how to communicate effectively and often with you, and is transparent about legal fees.
Now, we’ll talk about the last trait: honesty when giving advice.
Attorneys Being Honest?
It probably sounds like a bad joke, but believe it or not, honesty is something you can – and should – expect in an attorney, especially one who will be working for you.
When I talk about giving honest advice, I’m referring to an attorney who will evaluate your case for its strengths, but will also be up front with you about any potential issues they foresee. An exceptional attorney will give you their honest opinion of what they think about your case and a realistic estimate of your case’s timeline.
To explain this, I’ll offer a contrast: an attorney who gives you a guarantee. Guarantees aren’t worth the breath it takes to give them, and they’re usually the mark of an unscrupulous attorney – or, at the least, an attorney who is desperate for your business.
The truth is this: no attorney should ever guarantee an outcome. Instead, attorneys should give you a realistic picture of what is likely to happen based on the facts of the case and the attorney’s knowledge and experience. Note that even a very confident assessment is not the same as a guarantee.
Why Honesty Is Crucial
Honesty is crucial to the success of your case from the very beginning. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time and effort with your case, ending up with unmet expectations.
Right before the verdict or settlement conference is the wrong time for an attorney to finally give you their honest assessment of your case. They should be very direct in telling you not just how much money they think you can get – which is very difficult to predict for any attorney and shouldn’t be the focus of your relationship with your lawyer – but also your chances of finding success. And this should happen consistently throughout the process, even from the beginning.
It’s easy to be honest as an attorney when you treat all of your clients as individuals with unique cases and needs. This allows us to focus our efforts on honestly evaluating the merits of the individual case, without trying to assume it’s the same as every other case.
Your case isn’t the same as every other case, and it shouldn’t be treated as such.
At the end of the day, honesty is an underrated, essential part of any successful legal outcome. If we’re not honest with you, we’re not serving your best interests – only ours.
I invite you to take a serious look at any attorney you are thinking about hiring for your case and making sure he or she fits all five of the characteristics we’ve talked about in this series. You deserve nothing less than the best representation you can find. And you usually only get one shot with your case – so you better make it count.