The best compliment we could receive is a referral to a friend or family member

There have been many instances where a client has retained me to fix something that their prior attorney didn’t do right the first time; or even worst, they were their own attorney and they didn’t do it right the first time.  If there is one piece of advice I would give all of my potential clients, it is that you should not do it yourself without seeking the advice of an attorney.  Many attorneys will be willing to give you advice on how to do it yourself and then, at least you can contact that attorney to help you if things are not going well in the DIY world.
When you are preparing to enter into a contract, it is always better to have your attorney look at it.  The attorney will point out where the contract should be more specific to protect you (especially with dates) because there are almost no circumstances under which having a vague contract will protect you better.
If you find that your attorney did a good job for you, you should refer your attorney to your friends and family members.  I am an attorney that does not have a presence in the phone book and getting referrals is the best “thank you” I can get.  If you know an attorney that has been honest with you and has done a good job informing you of your rights and obligations, you should tell your friends and family members so that they are not left playing eenie meenie miney mo through the endless list of attorneys in the phone book.
I get all of my clients through face-to-face introductions and referrals from my existing clients (along with a small presence on the internet i.e. this blog).  A yellowpages ad is just too expensive for my taste and I am able to keep busy with my current system.  My personal belief is that if an attorney has to advertise in the phonebook to get clients, that attorney either has such a small niche that it is difficult to find prospective clients, or that attorney’s previous clients are not satisfied enough to recommend that attorney to others.

How to choose an attorney

There are three people in your life that you should never lie to: your doctor, your dentist, and your attorney.  This morning, I heard someone say that these are the people that get lied to the most.  From my experience, this is probably true and it is not a constructive use of a lie.  These people are the three people that immediately know that you are lying and if we don’t know it immediately, we find out eventually.  The most important aspect to a healthy attorney-client relationship is trust.  Not only that the attorney trusts the client, but more importantly, that the client trusts the attorney.

An attorney can sense when a client does not trust him.  Not only by the things the client does, but also by the things the client says.  Don’t get me wrong, I have heard many horror stories about attorneys taking advantage of too-trusting clients, and I have respect for a healthy skepticism; however there is a difference between a healthy skepticism and distrust of the attorney.  There are several ways that you can find an attorney that you trust.  First of all, you should meet with more than one attorney.  The purpose of meeting with several attorneys is to make sure that the one you do pick, is knowledgable in the area of your matter.  Once you get a feeling for the type of discussion you should be having with your attorney, you will be more comfortable asking questions and will get more information based on your questions.  You should be able to find two or three attorneys that offer free consultations to accomplish this.

Meeting with several attorneys is also good advice because you can get a feel for the different personalities of the attorneys and you can pick one that suits your style best.  Another tactic that will help ensure that you find a trust-worthy attorney is to ask your friends and family members who they use for various personal legal problems.  Your friends and family members can likely tell you the strengths and weaknesses of the person they use and you can more easily evaluate whether that attorney is right for you.  A word of caution regarding this tactic however: you should follow your gut feeling.  Just because a friend or family member had good luck with a particular attorney does not mean that the attorney is particularly knowledgeable in the area of law that your matter is in.  You must meet with the attorney to find out what they know and more importantly, what they don’t know.

Do not hire an attorney that you do not trust.  You do not owe anyone an explanation regarding why you chose a particular attorney.  If you hire an attorney that you do not trust, you spend more time following up on matters, calling the attorney to ask questions so that you feel reassured, and generally worrying about whether the attorney is doing his job.  In the long run, this will cost you more time, money, & sleepless nights for the same or similar result.