Regardless of what kind of case you’re perusing, you obviously want the best attorney you can get for the job. This generally means searching for someone who specializes in your type of case and who has many years of experience doing so. This can be a tall order at times, but you can find some ways to whittle down your choices. Whether you’re looking for lawyers in Halifax, or anywhere else, here are some common red flags you can watch out for. If an attorney you visit shows one of these signs, then it’s probably time to start looking elsewhere.
When you stop in to visit a potential attorney, pay particular attention to the work area, as this can be a great initial tell for their overall quality. Everything from the exterior of the building, the conference room, and the attorney’s office can be clues about their work practices and clientele. Generally poor conditions or any states of disrepair likely point to the service having financial issues. A larger firm having multiple empty offices suggests a high rate of turnover, which is never without cause. Looking over the attorney’s office for cleanliness and organization is probably the biggest sign as to whether they could be a good option. If piles of mail are left unopened or if the office is generally disorganized, this is a huge sign to look elsewhere. There’s always a chance that there’s a method to this attorney’s madness, but do you really want to risk the chance?
How the staff act is a great sign as to how effective any place of business is. A poor workplace environment is one of the biggest factors to drive down productivity, after all. A lack of staff is a particularly bad sign that an attorney is either facing financial difficulties, or they may simply be difficult to work with. The way the staff acts toward potential clients is a good indicator about the location as well. Disgruntled staff or a staff without energy are both signs that they may not be getting the best treatment. If an attorney doesn’t seem to be treating staff members well, do you really want to entrust your case to that person?
Documentation and billing
These are tough things to judge before you actually start working with an attorney, but if you find either element lacking, it’s probably best to sever the relationship and start looking elsewhere. Effective communication is extremely important in any attorney/client relationship. This includes phone calls and all other methods of communication. There are a few things you can do if you feel an attorney isn’t answering your calls promptly, but a failure to deliver clear documentation is a problem that can’t be ignored. You shouldn’t have to ask multiple times to look over a document that you feel is important.
It’s also important to evaluate an attorney’s billing practices. Vague billing is one of the worst possible offenses. Your billing statement should explain exactly what tasks are being performed as well as when and by whom. There also shouldn’t be any hidden (undisclosed) fees or additional charges for everyday office activities like copy making. Fees like these, as well as overbilling, are unethical practices and arguably the biggest sign you need to switch attorneys.
If a potential attorney doesn’t show any of these red flags, then there’s a solid possibility you’ve found the right person for the job. Go beyond the level of experience, and see whether the firm can provide you with positive references. You might also check around the local area for any information you can find about the practice and success rate. If they come through all your scrutiny unscathed, and you feel comfortable about the hire, it’s a safe bet that you’ve found good representation.