LawTalk Blog

Okay, I need a lawyer but how do I choose one?

Choosing the right lawyer for your needs

Eventually “it” happens to all of us and you need to decide what to do. You need to get the right advice – you are going to be making some big calls about your future based on this advice. You need to choose the right lawyer to talk to.

I know, that is enough to put you off seeking any advice let alone the right advice. It’s enough to put you off the whole decision making process; don’t let that happen. Delay can have a real sting in its tail and affect your access to justice.

Here are a few tips to help you make the first step.


Focus on “it” – what is the problem? This will help you chose what area of law your lawyer should have expertise in.

  • Is it a family law problem like a separation or property settlement?
  • Did something go wrong while you were getting medical treatment; that’s medical negligence?
  • Were you unfairly sacked; then you’ll need a lawyer who is ‘all over’ employment law.
  •  Were you involved in a motor vehicle accident; that’s personal injury?
  • Are you starting a new business and about to sign a commercial lease, a partnership agreement, a franchise agreement or a contract to buy your retirement business; here we’re talking commercial law.
  • Are you in a dispute with your superannuation trustee or an insurance company or has some died? That’s estate law.
"You want a lawyer with the specific skills you need. After all you don’t go to the dentist for a broken leg. "

The list is virtually endless. What I can tell you is you will need an experienced lawyer backed by a firm with substance. You want a lawyer with the specific skills you need. After all you don’t go to the dentist for a broken leg.

Get onto Google and type what you’re looking for; for example, “lawyer medical negligence Adelaide”. See what pops up.

However, do not stop there. Do not just call the number at the top of the page. Look deeper into each of the law firms and into the lawyers who have the expertise you’re after. Read each firm’s website, see what information is on it and see what has been written about the firm and its lawyers.

Lawyers these days write blogs and papers and some even publish articles. What has the lawyer you’re looking into written. Ask yourself “do they know their stuff?”

Make yourself a list of possible candidates.

Contact the lawyer – establish the experience

Ring each candidate and ask each one directly about their experience; I mean directly.

If you’re not sure what to ask the lawyer, they should still be able to assist you with your inquiry; after all they are the one with the skills you’re seeking, aren’t they?

By the time they give you a bit of information you are just as likely then to have a few questions of your own. Nothing is a silly question.

Once you have finished talking to them ask yourself a few questions:

  • How did that go?
  • Did they listen to me?
  • Could they answer my questions?
  • Was I comfortable?

Okay, if a candidate ticks these boxes you should take the next step.

Meet and talk with your prospective lawyer

Communication is a determinant of success. There are many things that can determine how well communication is going to go; from the practical to the personal.

  • Time – did the lawyer take the time to speak with you and can they see you when you need to see them?
  • Location – where is the firm located? Can you get to them or can they get to you?
  • Do you have a disability which may affect your access to justice? Does the lawyer and the firm adapt?
  • Listening – listening skills are a vital part of communication. Is the lawyer listening? Are they hearing you?
  • Understanding – empathy and understanding are vital. Do the firm and the lawyer have it? Did they show compassion towards you?
  • Then ask your self – will they fight for me?

I know, you’re thinking “what will this cost me?” It’s a valid question.

  • Does the firm have payment options? Do they understand your financial position? Never let this concern you or stop you from the first phone call. Call and talk to the lawyer and make sure you talk to them about the cost. 

Make your selection

This is the final step. In the end you have to make the decision but make it based on sound knowledge and research. Once you have signed on to work with your chosen lawyer, be proactive with your legal matter; ask questions, ask for explanations. This is your matter and your future. 

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