How to Select an Attorney - Tip #2
Focus on Focus
One of the most important things to find out regarding an attorney you’re interviewing is what percentage of his or her time is spent in the area of practice related to your situation. For example, a lawyer may list her practice areas as personal injury, family and estate planning. If you are going through a divorce, you’ll want to know what percentage of the attorney’s time is spent practicing family law.
Ideally, you want to find a lawyer who focuses 100 percent on the area of law pertaining to your legal need. Like the practice of medicine, the legal profession has grown increasingly complex and specialized. Just as you wouldn’t want to hire a heart surgeon who devotes half his practice to dermatology, you shouldn’t hire a “part-time” trial lawyer or divorce lawyer.
In some situations, however – mostly in the area of business law – a lawyer may practice in several areas that are related and complementary. For example, the areas of tax, finance, mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, closely held businesses, securities and shareholder rights may have enough overlap that knowledge in more than one area is beneficial.
But that’s not the case in consumer law. If you look at the main areas of consumer law – family, personal injury, estate planning and criminal law – you’ll see very little, if any, overlap between practice areas that would benefit you, the client. If your personal injury lawyer spends half his time drafting wills, that’s not going to make him a better trial lawyer.
So, focus on your lawyer’s focus. Narrow your search by interviewing only those lawyers who are fully dedicated to your area of need.