One of the most frequent telephone calls we get at our Houston personal injury practice is from people who were dissatisfied with their current representation and seeking to change attorneys. Some of the calls are from people who have unrealistic expectations of the claim or the claim handling process and some calls stem from frustration with a lack of communication from the lawyer to the client. Generally, changing attorneys in the middle of a claim is not a productive endeavor.
The vast majority of these clients could have prevented much of their frustration by simply doing homework about who they hire and why. Spending time researching the attorney you are considering prior to actually hiring that lawyer is the first step in a satisfactory relationship.
Inexperienced in hiring lawyers
The vast majority of people seeking out a personal injury attorney have not previously hired an attorney and are unfamiliar with how to investigate the lawyer or law firm. Many see an ad on TV and call the number to get their attorney. Others receive recommendations from friends who have seen the advertisements on TV or otherwise have a friend who is a lawyer.
Attorneys who advertise on TV or even billboards most likely have a high-volume practice involving numerous claimants and a reputation for churning the cases quickly in lieu of seeking to maximize the monetary recovery of their clients. Frequently, the engagement between the attorney and the client is almost nonexistent because “legal assistants” handle almost all of the communications.
Some questions to consider:
- How long has the attorney you are considering and practicing personal injury law?
- How close is the office to where you live?
- Is the attorney located in the city or town with the accident occurred?
- How did you feel when you met the lawyer?
- What do others say about the firm?
- Will this attorney care about me as a person?
Researching the lawyer
There are many different ways to research the attorney you are considering for your case. In the age of social media, and high-speed Internet, much information is readily available from such sources as state bar associations and the Better Business Bureau.
Google also offers reviews as do Yelp and other trusted sources of information. Be wary however of important sounding organizations or awards because many of those designations are not based upon peer-reviewed information but rather a financial arrangement between the organization and the attorney.
If you suspect that the law firm is a high-volume firm, consider a more quality oriented approach as opposed to quantity. The more cases an attorney or law firm handles the less individual attention the client can expect from the lawyer. When the entire case is handled primarily with legal assistants the odds of frustration increase substantially.
Finally, be wary of the large firm with a great reputation that has a great many inexperienced associates who actually handled the case and do the work. While the “partner” usually conducts the initial client meeting, their involvement in the case usually ends at that point and the client ends up thinking there retaining the high-powered partner only to end up with the inexperienced attorney who is learning on the job-with their case.
A little time spent up front investigating a law firm before actually hiring an attorney for your case can radically improve your odds of placing phone calls later on seeking to find another attorney.