When considering a Long Island attorney, there are several factors to take into consideration. Firstly, depending on the situation, there may be significant time restrictions placed upon your ability to obtain relief imposed under law. With the understanding therefore that your decision may need to be made promptly, the following list of characteristics is presented to provide assistance in selecting your lawyer.
1. Professional Memberships
Is the lawyer a member of relevant professional organizations? Active membership in such organizations allows the lawyer to be in touch with recent occurrences and ever constant changes in the field. Of course, membership alone is not a guarantee of competence, but it does indicate that the attorney may be included in the relevant community.
How does the attorney charge its fees? Most attorneys handling construction litigation provide services on an hourly basis, although in some situations a flat fee may be used. If the fee charged by the attorney is out of the norm for the market (either too high or too low) this may indicate that the lawyer is either not aware of the amount of work involved in taking on the matter, or that the matter would be handed down to a junior associate or legal assistant to work on.
3. Disciplinary Actions
Has the attorney ever been disciplined by the Grievance Committee of the New York Bar? This would be an obvious indication of a potentially bad attorney. An attorney who is competent to provide legal representation should be known by the local bar associations who can confirm the attorneys membership status.
4. Community Reputation
Through being a member of the community, the lawyer will be establishing a reputation, either positive or negative. Positive reputations are only established upon quality and consistent work on the part of the attorney over time.
5. Client References
Lawyers who have good practice habits understand that their existing clientele provide one of the most reliable sources for references available. Who better to provide feedback as to a client's experience with a lawyer than one of the firm's clients.
6. Focused Practice
Lawyers who list numerous areas of expertise may run the risk of spreading their professional focus too thin. In areas of complex litigation, reducing the areas of expertise increases the likelihood that the attorney is kept abreast of all the developments in the practice area. It is nearly impossible to be a top-notch attorney in a specific technical area while balancing numerous other practice areas. Be wary of attorneys who profess to have a laundry list of claimed specialties.
The most common complaint against attorneys today comes from clients being unsatisfied with the level of communication they have with their attorney. Clients expect that when paying legal fees, they will be kept informed of developments and have their calls and emails returned in a timely manner.
One of the best indicators as to an attorneys competence to practice in a specialized field would be the level of education and training that the attorney has received. Does the attorney posses the level of technical sophistication required to properly address your concern?
The entire representation experience however is based on more than just the attorney’s education and experience. Much of the result will depend on how you personally relate to your attorney. An attorney who has an approachable personality and who actually seems to care about your case can make a tremendous difference.
10. Grand Promises
An attorney who makes proud representations of ‘never having lost a case’ or who promise an ultimate result in the case should be taken with a bit of caution. It is not realistic or ethical on the part of the attorney to make such representations. A lawyer who honestly lays out the risks and benefits associated with any action for the client truly serves the clients’ interests better.
These factors are being offered for your suggestion to better select the attorney that is right for you as a public service and is not intended to establish any attorney-client relationship. Any reliance upon information contained herein is done so at your risk.