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Kelly & West News

Red Flags That an Attorney is Not Right for You

If you’ve been injured and are thinking about filing a lawsuit, you’ll need an attorney.  There are more attorneys than ever to pick from, and a good choice may be the most important step you can take toward recovering the compensation you deserve.  Here are a few things you should do in considering your options and some red flags along the way that can help you avoid an attorney who’s not right for you.

Do Your Research

All attorneys are required to register with the State Bar, so you can find a compete list of those near you online.  The bar’s website also identifies attorneys who have been accused of or disciplined for practicing law incorrectly or unethically.  That’s most often a red flag.

You should also visit the attorneys’ and/or firm’s websites and check to see if the attorney has the type of experience you’re looking for.  There’s little to stop most attorneys from taking your case, but not all attorneys focus on personal injury law.  If personal injury cases aren’t mentioned among the attorney’s areas of practice or, as is often the case, they’re listed as one of what seems like too many different areas, that can be a red flag.

The websites should also tell you how long the attorney and his/her firm have been working in your community.  If they’ve been established there for more than a few years, chances are they provide services that their clients find valuable.  If they haven’t, it may be a red flag.

Check Your Grapevine

Your family, friends and others you trust have probably worked with a number of local attorneys, including on personal injury cases.  Talk with any who have about their experiences.

Ask about the attorney’s work habits.  Did the attorney return their phone calls and emails promptly?  Were they regularly updated on what was going in their case?  Did the attorney seem well prepared for and perform well in meetings with the opposition and court appearances?  Criticisms in their responses could be red flags.

Obviously, the most important question to ask is whether they would recommend the attorney for you.  If not, why not?  If the reason makes sense to you, that’s a red flag.

Be on Alert at Your Consultations

Once you’ve narrowed your list of candidates down to a few finalists, it’s time for the initial consultations.  You should meet, one-on-one in their offices, with as many attorneys as you feel is necessary to help you make your decision.  A consultation doesn’t obligate you to hire the attorney or obligate the attorney to accept your case, but it is definitely an occasion to be on alert for red flags.

Look at the attorney’s office.  A clean desk suggests that everything is in order, which is vital in preparing a case.  It’s likely a sign that the attorney keeps up with the work and is not allowing the paperwork to fall behind, a good indication that he or she will keep up with your case as well.  If that’s not what you see, it may be a red flag.

Be prepared, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  How much of the attorney’s firm’s business comes from referrals from other attorneys and previous clients?  How many cases like yours has the attorney had, and how did those cases work out?  How often will you hear from the attorney about the progress in your case?  How will you be billed for the attorney’s services and any extra costs or fees?  If the attorney uses legal terms or says anything else that you don’t understand, ask for an explanation.

There may, of course, be red flags in the attorney’s reactions and responses to your questions as well as in questions the attorney asks you.  Apart from any of those, however, there are a few essential attributes you want to be as convinced of as possible by your consultation.  You want to know that the attorney is:

  1.  A trustworthy professional
  2.  A good communicator – a strong speaker and a good listener;
  3. Interested in your case and committed to doing what’s best for you; and
  4. Someone you can work with comfortably.

If you come away with any doubts about those, it’s a bright red flag.  

If you’re looking for experienced personal injury attorneys who strongly value their clients, contact our team at Kelly & West. Having served the Lillington community for nearly 40 years, we are confident that our attorneys can offer you the best legal assistance. 


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