Denver Divorce and Real Estate Lawyer Blog. (Vol 1.16)
By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq. The Littleton Lawyer.
As a real estate and divorce lawyer specializing in Littleton, Denver, Englewood, Centennial, Highlands Ranch and the surrounding areas, I have an idea as to what factors to consider to when you choose a Denver lawyer, whether it is me or any other attorney.
Choosing an attorney is an important decision. You will be working with this person for an extended period of time to help you with a legal problem and there are several factors you may wish to consider.
First, you need to decide if you actually need an attorney.
Many of the problems I deal with as a residential real estate and family law attorney appear difficult on the surface but in fact can be easily rectified without much legal work and at little cost. Some problems are just common sense; some cases are worthwhile but impractical to pursue. Other cases are just not work the risk and aggravation of pursing.
Most attorneys offer a free, initial, no-obligation consultation. Use the initial interview as an opportunity to get a general opinion of the merits of the case and an overview of how your particular type of case might unfold.
The easier you convey the facts of the case, the less time the lawyer will spend trying to figure out the case and the more time he can focus on the unique aspects of your individual legal needs. Come prepared to the initial interview. Organize and bring your documents, create a list of witnesses and an outline or chronology of the story behind your case.
If it turns out you need an attorney, the next step is to determine if the attorney is a good fit to represent you in this case.
While you are interviewing an attorney to hire as your legal advisor, the lawyer is also assessing you to determine if he thinks he can help you and you can benefit from his services. The most important aspect of the attorney-client relationship as with any relationship is trust between you and the attorney.
Assess the attorney as you would any professional.
Is this someone you trust? Does he present himself well. Doe he appear interested in you and in the facts of the case? Is he sympathetic to your cause? Among the other factors to consider, can you communicate with the attorney and does the attorney appear to understand your case.
The attorney should have some background and experience in your type of case. For example, some cases appear to be a real estate law case and in fact require either a tax attorney or a trust and estates attorney. You do not want to pay an attorney to educate himself on the type of case, and each type of practice has nuances that can only be learned by experience.
The attorney should be able to tell war stories about cases similar to yours and should be familiar with the principles of your type of problem . He should know the fundamental statutes or case law behind your type of case. The attorney should also be familiar with and have an office in close proximity to court where your case is filed.
Clients are naturally concerned about the cost of a case and the attorneys fees they will pay to defend or pursue the case. Most people simply ask about the retainer and the hourly rate. Each attorney bills differently. Some attorneys charge in hourly increments and round their hours up. Other charge for incidentals that quickly add up.
Ask to see a sample bill.
How nice is their office? A posh office or an expensive address means high overhead and probably much higher attorneys fees. Many attorneys offer discounted or reduced attorneys fees, low retainers, and attorneys fees under a sliding scale. Depending on the type of case, some cases are taken on contingency.
Inquire as to how long the retainer is likely to last. Ask the attorney for an estimate as to the cost of the case. Assume the case will cost more than the estimate because legal problems often become more complicated than they originally seem.
From my experience, it is best to approach the case with the idea of settling the case, but always to view the case as a trial attorney from day one, analyze the case as a judge or jury is likely to see it, and to keep focused on developing the relevant legal theories and evidence needed to win the case.
Ask about the attorney's success rate.
Also determine if the attorney is on board through the whole process. Some attorneys are not trial attorneys. If the case does not settle, you may need to hire a different attorney or a co-counsel to take the case to trial. That could result in substantial additional costs to you.
Google the attorney.
Read his website to ascertain his background, personality, and qualifications. Has he written articles? If so, are they in the practice area of your case? Did he write them or were they written for him. If he wrote them, that shows the attorneys has a passion for the practice area and for the practice of law. If he hired them to be written, that shows, well, little more than a passion for marketing.
Has the attorney done appeals? Are they in the practice area of your case. How are his reviews? Check out the attorney on the Colorado Supreme Court Attorney Registration website to determine if he has any history of ethics violations or disciplinary problems?
Does he have partners or associates, and what value do they bring to the case? I see a lot of cases where an attorney adds a younger, less-experienced attorney who is little more than a trainee at the client's expense. Be clear with the attorney as to how the lawyer functions and what to expect from the lawyer or law firm in their representation of you in the case.
Lastly, because it is an important decision, shop around. If you have a deadline with a court proceeding, consider asking the court for more time in order to retain counsel. Cases go smoother if both of the parties have lawyers, and most judges grant at least one continuance for you to interview and hire an attorney. Take your time and interview as many attorneys as you deem necessary until you find the one best-suited to help you with your legal needs.