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7 Habits of the Highly Effective Attorney

Effective Attorney

Photo by Brian Turner

Ever wonder how you will know if the attorney from whom you seek advice is really good at what he or she does? Here is a list of things to look for when choosing an experienced attorney.

1. The attorney’s firm has been in business for a considerable amount of time. Chances are if the firm has been established for more than “a few years,” the firm offers a service that clients find valuable. You can also inquire what percent of the attorney’s firm’s business comes from referrals and from previous clients.

If that number is high, there is a good chance they have satisfied clients. If the attorney doesn’t know, that could mean they are not very in tune to how the clients feel about their practice or that they simply do not know that much about the business for whatever reason, but at least it’s worth asking.

2. The attorney is prepared for the appointments that are scheduled. Does the attorney act like a seasoned veteran or like a newbie? Does he/she appear organized? Does he/she ask you questions about your case or does he/she flounder like he/she has never interviewed a client before? If the attorney has done this before, chances are he/she has notes, forms, and information that he/she needs to collect before he/she can assist you and that he/she will work toward gathering this information at the initial conference.

3. The attorney takes notes as you talk about your case. There are exceptions to this, but attorneys are people too, and the good ones take notes as you speak so that they can remember what you say and so that they can ask follow-up questions at the appropriate time. Chances are an attorney who does not take notes is like a waiter who doesn’t write down your order – either he/she has a great memory or is not really listening to what you are saying and will not remember it later when he/she is preparing the food, or the case.

4. The attorney has the technology necessary to carry out his work. A good attorney needs tools of the trade, just like a carpenter needs a hammer and a saw. Therefore, inquire with your attorney about the tools that he/she has available to him. Does he/she have a computer system to help him keep up with documents, phone calls, emails, and important dates and deadlines? Does he/she have case management software? Does he/she have up-to-date bookkeeping and billing software? Does he/she have digital imaging software and a high-speed scanner? Chances are if he/she has these things he/she is more likely to handle work more efficiently and to promptly respond to incoming requests.

5. The attorney has ample support staff. A highly effective attorney cannot respond to every call, every inquiry and every demand on a daily basis all alone. He/she needs a support team. Ask your attorney whether he/she has support staff to help or whether he/she is by himself/herself. Does he/she have a paralegal that is just dedicated to helping him/her? Does he/she have a separate receptionist or is the attorney or paralegal the one who does it all? Chances are an attorney with dedicated staff members is better equipped to handle the daily demands of the practice than one who does not have a dedicated staff.

6. The attorney has a clean desk. We often hear that a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind; however, when it comes to the practice of law, clean desks can be the sign of an organized attorney. While it’s true that some people have “organized chaos,” in most cases, it’s up to the attorney and staff to make sure that the file is in the proper place and that documents are properly filed. A clean desk can be a sign that everything in proper order, which is important in preparing a case. Also, a clean desk may be a sign that the attorney is up on his work and that he/she is not allowing his paperwork to fall behind, a good indication that he/she will be up on your case as well.

7. The attorney holds most calls and talks to you without being interrupted by others during the appointment. An attorney who won’t make you priority during the initial appointment probably won’t make you a priority at other times throughout the representation either. When selecting an attorney, be sure that the attorney acts interested in what you are telling him/her and that he/she listens to what you are saying. An experienced attorney should be able to respond to questions that you ask and should be well-versed in the subject matter and be able to explain the answer to you in a way that makes sense to you. In other words, an experienced attorney should put you first and make sure you have a clear understanding about the law and the process.

Of course, most of the time, you know a good lawyer when you meet one, so trust your instincts. If the lawyer seems untrustworthy and you don’t feel comfortable with him or her, look somewhere else. After all, you may be working with the lawyer for awhile and you want someone with whom you feel comfortable.

What Our Clients

Have Said...

Alexander C. – Harnett County Property Owner

“Reggie Kelly is a fantastic attorney with fantastic paralegals. My wife and I have been using him and his firm since 1983 when we first purchased property in Harnett County 37 years ago. He offers excellent legal advice and guidance. He never gets in a hurry to get us out the door because of his next appointment. He always takes the time needed to check out all of the issues that might come up. Reggie Kelly is a proud American and he loves our country and he wants everyone to do well. Reggie Kelly is an even finer person than he is a fantastic attorney and we are very fortunate to also be able to call him and his wife Cheryl our friends. We give him a 10 STAR Review!”