Close to 90% of Americas experience a legal need at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, some people hesitate to contact an attorney for fear of excessive fees and drawn-out litigation. However, many legal professionals resolve many matters in less than six months and for less than $5,000. If you need an Outagamie County lawyer, look for the following client-centered factors before signing a retainer agreement and speak with the professional Appleton attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff by calling (920) 450-9800 or contacting us online to receive a free consultation.
Fee Structures & Cost Transparency
The majority of prospective clients desire straightforward information about attorneys’ fees, retainers, and consultation costs. While every case differs, experienced lawyers should discuss their fees with you upfront. Law firms employ three main types of fees structures:
- Hourly – Each attorney charges a set hourly rate based on their experience level and may bill clients periodically. Depending on the case, some firms require clients to pay for a certain amount of hours upfront, a type of payment often referred to as a “retainer.”
- Contingent – Tort lawyers often accept cases with no upfront costs in exchange for a certain percentage of the overall settlement or verdict
- Flat – A one-time fee that covers a single transaction or case
Defense and some family law attorneys typically charge by the hour, while personal injury and workers compensation lawyers often work on a contingency basis. However, many domestic relations, small business, criminal defense, and estate planning attorneys quote clients a one-time fee for handling certain legal matters. Discuss each option with a prospective attorney and ensure that any attorney-client contracts clearly set forth the attorney’s fees and expense structure. Attorneys who work on contingency do not generally charge clients for case consultations, and many firms offer payment plans or refer eligible claimants to pro-bono services.
Responsiveness & Effective Communication
According to the American Bar Association, lack of communication is one of the top reasons clients complain about their lawyers. Prospective clients should expect swift responses after reaching out to law firms via their preferred methods of contact. Delayed contact often indicates disorganization, unprofessionalism, and an inability to manage the current caseload. Clients working with attorneys who consistently fail to return phone calls, emails, or update them on their case status should consider transferring the matter to another lawyer.
Look for attorneys offering multiple avenues of communication. Most consumers prefer to speak with attorneys face-to-face or over the phone initially, but emails and text messages provide convenient ways to stay in contact throughout the litigation. Professional law firms should offer various consultation options to fit a busy client’s needs.
Attentiveness & Professional Reputation
Before hiring a Wisconsin attorney, review his or her bar standing and status through the state lawyer search. A reputable lawyer’s profile will list the following:
- Official standing, which may reflect any past or present disciplinary matters
- Bar status – only attorneys with an “active” status may practice law
- Firm name and contact information
- Law school, graduation year, and bar admission date
Cross-reference any information provided by the attorney, such as years in practice, against his bar record.
Some legal matters take longer to resolve than others and involve delicate personal issues. Even if an attorney has an upstanding reputation, your personalities may conflict. The right lawyer will pay attention to her client’s individual needs and concerns. Attorneys who rush clients off the phone, sound distracted, give short answers, or otherwise seem uninterested in an individual client might not be the right fit.
Relevant Experience & Local Connections
When considering an attorney, search for online reviews and testimonials. Find an attorney with experience handling your particular legal issue and ask for examples of positive outcomes. Be careful of attorneys without an online presence or who cannot provide relevant examples of their work. Laws consistently change, and no one attorney practices in every type of law. Consider retaining local counsel knowledgeable in your particular area of need.
Familiarly with local judges, procedures, and court systems also benefit most clients. If the lawyer already has a professional relationship with county prosecutors, court officials, law enforcement, and opposing counsel, this may increase the likelihood of a speedy and amicable resolution to your issue.
Technological Aptitude & Proofreading
Contrary to Hollywood’s portrayal of attorneys spending most of their time in court, most legal advocacy occurs on paper. Furthermore, the majority of case filings and discovery proceedings require electronic submissions. Courts impose stringent e-document formatting, redaction, and upload guidelines. Failure to abide by these requirements often results in rejected motions, litigation delays, increased costs, and unfavorable case outcomes. Even the most experienced attorneys might fail to make the proper electronic filings.
Select an attorney who is comfortable using technology and who has strong written advocacy skills. Client communications should not contain glaring formatting or grammatical errors, and the quality of a law firm’s website often reflects its ability to engage in effective electronic advocacy.
Red Flags During an Attorney Search
To some attorneys, your case pays the bills, but many others find fulfillment in their chosen careers. The following client-reported red flags often indicate lack of firm organization, dedication, and professionalism:
- Failure to timely respond to client inquiries
- Fees structures disproportion to the attorney’s locality and experience
- Negative online reviews/no reviews
- No website or difficulty obtaining contact information
- Disciplinary actions and criminal complaints
- Any red-light matters listed on the attorney’s bar profile
- Unprofessional email and phone responses
- No prior relevant experience or available case examples
Your attorney works for you, not the other way around. Many legal consumers speak with two or three attorneys before finding the right fit for their cases.
Speak with the Trusted Criminal and Family Law Attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff
Many attorneys provide quick and free case consultations. Even if they cannot help you, they may direct you to a qualified colleague. Ask questions about their professional experience in your area of need, fee structure, and familiarity with the local court system.
The Wisconsin criminal and family law attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff value your time, finances, and individual needs. Please take advantage of a free case review for selecting the right lawyer by calling (920) 450-9800 or contacting us online to schedule a free confidential consultation.