I NEED A GOOD LAWYER. WHAT DO I DO?
By Lt.Col. Suellen Overton, 132 FW/JA
/ Published July 21, 2010
Des Moines, Iowa --
This is a very good question. First, you should come to the base legal office for an evaluation as to whether we can address your needs. If the base legal office is unable to provide the kind of assistance that you need (for example, filing for divorce or handling a criminal matter), then we have the resources to assist you in your search.
What? You can't wait for drill weekend! You need a lawyer now? One of the best ways to find an attorney is to ask your friends, co-workers, or family. Their personal experiences with an attorney will give you insights on who to hire and who not to.
Do some research. Several good web sites are available: At www.Martindale.com allows you to search based on an attorney's name or the type of attorney you need. This web site provides peer rankings. Peer rankings are grades given by attorneys to attorneys. Rankings are AV (preeminent); and BV (distinguished). Attorneys who received a CV rating typically will not publish their rating; or simply publish the rating scale (for example 2.9 out of 5). Some attorneys without ratings may be new to the practice of law. Merely because your attorney does not have a rating does not mean that he/she is not good or is not capable of meeting your needs.
An affiliated web site is www.Lawyers.com. However, www.Lawyers.com is for those attorneys who have chosen to advertise. This web site has some great attorney web sites though that can tell you more about their firm and their experience. Another up and coming advertising web site is www.Findlaw.com. Finally, on your web search don't forget to "Bing" and "Google" the attorney whom you are thinking of retaining.
Beyond personal references and the web, you can look in the phone book and/or contact the Iowa State Bar Association.
Questions you should ask before hiring an attorney:
- Has the attorney handled matters like this one before?
- Is there a charge for first-time consultation?
- How much does the attorney charge per hour, per task or work on a contingent fee basis?
- Will the attorney require a retainer payment before providing services?
- How many hours does the attorney believe it would take to complete the task?
- Does the attorney provide the client with a written contract or a letter confirming employment? If so, ask to see an example.
- Can the attorney explain to you what to expect and what issues will be generally involved in your case?
- Do you feel comfortable being open and honest with the attorney?
- Do you believe the attorney will be open and honest with you about your case
(Source for questions: Iowa State Bar Association web site).
The decision to hire an attorney is an important one. Shop around. While cost should be a consideration in selecting an attorney, it should not be the main one or the only one