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Monday, October 26, 2009

How to find the lawyer you need and want

Yes, it is possible to find a lawyer who will do a great job for you, who will charge you a reasonable amount for the work and who is someone you actually like working with. Here are some ideas for finding the one you need.

First of all, remember that lawyers specialize in certain areas of law. Stick with a specialist if you possibly can. This isn't so easy if you live in a smaller town with only a few lawyers, none of whom are specialists. If your estate is large or complex (e.g. you are a business owner or you are in a blended family) it is probably worth your while to go see a specialist in the nearest large city.

When calling a lawyer you don't know, rather than asking "do you do wills?", ask what percentage of his or her practice is in wills and estates. That way you can get a feel for how much of this work the lawyer does and consequently how up to date he or she is and how much experience he or she has in this area of law.

The very best way to find a lawyer you will be happy with is to ask around among your friends, family and co-workers. If anyone tells you that they have recently done their own estate planning, ask what they thought of the process and why they would or would not use the same lawyer again.

If you contact a lawyer for the first time and your call is not returned for days or even weeks, move on to the next prospective lawyer. The one who doesn't return your calls is not interested in your business.

When meeting with a lawyer about estate planning, ask yourself the following:
  • Does the lawyer seem knowledgeable and experienced?
  • Does the lawyer listen to me and let me explain things?
  • Am I getting the chance to ask questions and am I getting answers that satisfy me?
  • Does the lawyer seem to understand my situation?
  • Is the lawyer offering me suggestions and recommendations?
  • Do I feel comfortable talking to this lawyer?
  • Is the lawyer treating me like a valued client?
Remember that just like in medicine, a second opinion can be valuable. If you don't like what you are hearing, tell the lawyer not to go ahead with the work. You will more than likely still be billed for the meeting but at least you won't be working in the future with someone you don't like.

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