Choosing the right attorney for you is key in any legal issue you are facing—whether it is a credit card lawsuit, a will, a divorce, the formation of a business, or a criminal matter. You need to choose an attorney that will be the right fit for your needs.

I want to be your attorney. However, sometimes I am not the right attorney for you. Whenever I speak with a potential client I give them an overview of my services and the way I handle cases—this gives them and me and opportunity to determine whether I will be the best fit for their needs.

As much as I want to be your attorney, I want you to succeed more than anything. Therefore, if I am not the right attorney for you, then I will be frank and tell you that I think you should go in another direction. I may even be able to refer you to someone who fits your needs better.

Top 5 tips for choosing an attorney:

The following are five guidelines you should consider when you choose an attorney to handle any legal matter you might have.

1.  Personality.

Everyone’s personality is different. You want to choose an attorney that complements your personality. If you are laid back, you may not want an intense lawyer who sends constant deadline reminders. However, if you are intense yourself then you may not want a more laid-back attorney.

Some clients have a personality that needs more reassurance and hand-holding. They want their attorneys to update them almost weekly, whereas other clients may want little to no communication about their legal matter—they just want to know when they need to sign something.

Further, some clients want to try and keep cases amicable, whereas others want to use a scorched earth method of litigation. You need to choose an attorney who’s philosophy in handling a case will fit your own.

At the same time, you should consider where your strengths and weaknesses are so that you can find an attorney to complement these. If you need a lot of reminders, then you may want the intense attorney who sends many reminders. If you are in a difficult place and emotionally fragile, then you may need someone who is able to hold your hand and provide moral support.

The key is to find an attorney who’s personality matches your needs. You can often get this feeling from your meeting with the attorney, and in how the attorney’s staff (if they have any) treated you. There are too many good attorneys out there for you to have to settle one someone who doesn’t make you comfortable, or who’s often leaves you feeling uncomfortable.

2.  Cost.

Some put this at number 1. Some put this lower. However, there is no denying cost is a factor to consider.

While we may all want Paul Clement, the exceptional lawyer who argued the healthcare act for states challenging it (or Donald Verrilli, the guy who argued for the government), few of us can afford Mr. Clement’s roughly $1,000 per hour fee.

Nevertheless, it is important to look beyond the pure bottom line. You need both an attorney you can afford, and one who suits your needs. Plus, you should hire someone who’s personality works well with yours. Do not shortchange the other considerations simply in favor of this one.

In the end, hiring the wrong attorney because he or she is cheap can end up being more expensive than hiring the right attorney who’s initial cost was more.

3.  Background and experience.

The attorney you hire needs to have a background that allows them to understand your needs. If you are being sued by a credit card company, you probably don’t want someone who represents banks on an hourly fee to represent you. They may not understand the specific stresses you are facing.

Similarly, if you are a tech company, you may not want to hire an older attorney who has secretaries type his documents on a computer because he doesn’t know how to use one.  If you are forming an internet-based company and your attorney doesn’t know what the internet is, that can be a big problem.

Which leads to experience. Experience is hard to measure. There is no magic experience level which indicates an attorney will work well on your case or do poorly. Rather, consider the type and amount of experience the attorney has.

One big reason experience is important is that more experience means the attorney can take less time on your case with similar results. For example, because of the number of credit card lawsuits I handle, I can quickly sort through the documents provided by a Plaintiff to see what the strength of their case might be. It may take an attorney with less experience much more time. (I know it did for me when I started out.)

Experience, though, does not mean quality. I have dealt with many attorneys with much more experience than me, but who do not do a good job with litigation or other legal matters. This can be because the attorneys are burnt out, or because they have reinforced bad habits over the years, or many more reasons.

4.  Recommendations.

Get recommendations from the folks you know. These can be attorneys who don’t handle the type of issue you have, or friends and family who have relied on attorneys in the past in a matter. Sometimes the recommendation will not lead to an attorney you are able and willing to hire, but it can lead to a referral to an attorney who does handle your type of case.

I know that for many of my clients I can refer them to attorneys I trust and would hire to represent me in different types of issues. Find an attorney that others trust, and that you can trust, and ask for a referral if it is not the kind of case they can handle. If the attorney is worth their networking salt then they should be able to provide you a name.

5.  Reputation.

Try and find a way to determine the reputation of the attorney you are looking to hire. Do a Google search on the attorney’s name. Check out’s website or any other lawyer-ratings website. Ask around to see if folks have dealt with the attorney. (Related to Number 4 above.)

Attorneys call this “doing your due diligence.” Many attorneys will research you before they allow you to hire them. If you’re a trouble client then they will try and find out and avoid you. They will also try and find out what basic information they can just to make sure you are who you say you are.

So do your own due diligence. Check your state bar’s website for information on the attorney. See what practice areas they cover. Read their website. Find out what you can because, odds are, you will be paying them not a small amount to handle your legal case.


Remember that you have the right to fire your attorney at any time. While this may harm the outcome of your case, and cause you to spend more money than you should, it does no one any good to be in a toxic attorney/client relationship.

If you and your attorney get along like cats and dogs, you may want to consider changing attorneys. Just be careful—changing will set your case back, will cost money, and may harm your chances of a good recovery.


There are many factors you may want to consider when choosing an attorney. The above factors are some of those I discuss with my own clients.

In the end, I want you to succeed in whatever it is you are handling (unless it is against me, of course!). Most attorneys, I believe, feel the same way.

Don’t be afraid to ask around about someone, to consider the costs and their experience, and to fire them if you don’t get along.

Good luck out there, and have fun!