Do you select your attorney on the basis of which animal mascot the lawfirm included in its advertising slogan? Are you comfortable hiring lawyers who choose a flying animal or a four legged creature as a mascot? Do you make a decision to hire a lawyer on the basis of advertising? Fees? Experience? What criteria do you use to evaluate who to hire for your legal needs?
What resources do you rely upon to choose a lawyer? If you need legal help, do you know where to go? Some Arizona specific recourses include the Arizona State Bar Association, or the Maricopa County Lawyer referral service. Nationally, the American Bar Association contains some useful information about lawyer referral resources.
Once you do hire an attorney, the Arizona State Bar Association published a brochure containing information about your rights and responsibilities as a client. No matter if you choose a firm with an animal mascot, a firm with a glitzy Hollywood spokesman on television or a firm which relies almost exclusively on word of mouth for referrals, these rights and responsibilties may be of some assistance:
CLIENT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Client Rights: When you hire a lawyer, you are entitled to one who:
Will represent you diligently and ethically.
Will be capable of handling your case. You are encouraged to ask about the lawyer’s education, training and experience before hiring him or her. The lawyer will inform you periodically about the status of your case and give you copies, if you request, of legal documents prepared on your behalf.
Will charge you a reasonable fee and tell you in advance the basis for that fee. You are encouraged to ask questions about the proposed fee. You should request written confirmation of your fee agreement whether it is a contingent fee, based on a hourly rate, or some other method.
Will provide an estimate of the costs and legal fees. You should inquire as to the potential costs if your case is lost. Before paying a bill, you are entitled to a written statement which you are paying.
Will keep statements and information which you reveal in the course of your relationship confidential.
Will give you the right to make the ultimate decisions on the legitimate objectives to be pursued in your case, including deciding whether or not to settle your case.
Will show you courtesy and respect.
Will exercise independent professional judgment on your behalf, free from compromising influence.
Client Responsibilities: When you hire a lawyer, you have the responsibility:
To give the lawyer a truthful and candid recitation of the facts surrounding your case. A lawyer can only help a client when there has been full disclosure. You have the responsibility to promptly notify the lawyer of changed circumstances.
To give the lawyer prompt responses to reasonable and necessary requests.
To understand that the lawyer has many other clients and to realize that other clients are equally deserving of the lawyer’s time and efforts.
To set appointments in advance rather than showing up at the office and expecting to be seen.
To treat the lawyer with courtesy and respect.
To communicate in a timely manner with the lawyer if you are unhappy regarding the representation and the reasons why.
To refrain from asking the lawyer to engage in behavior which is inappropriate, unethical, unprofessional, or illegal.
To be on time for all legal proceedings.
To pay the agreed upon lawyer’s fee in a prompt manner. If unforeseen circumstances arise concerning payment, you should inform the lawyer of the reasons for nonpayment. If any billing entries are in question, you should give immediate notice to the lawyer.
Hopefully these resources may assist in your search for an attorney and provide information about your rights and responsibilities when you hire one. I am curious about what other resources you consider in the course of choosing an attorney? I look forward to hearing your responses.