Hiring the Right Lawyer
By Phillip Addis —
Consistently one of the top shows of its time, it remains a mystery why “Have Gun-Will Travel” lasted only six seasons in the 1950s and ‘60s. Its premise of a gun-toting gentleman with legal expertise remains largely applicable—and certainly entertaining—today.
Following the Civil War, Paladin, a West Point graduate, would tackle your legal issues with a mix of intellect, ingenuity and intimidation. Though we no longer legally settle differences with a custom-made revolver, times have hardly changed otherwise. Many people still regard enlisting a lawyer as a search for the best hired gun to defend them in the upcoming battle.
Just as there are many dating websites that claim to help you find the perfect match, there are many websites to help you find the perfect lawyer. One claims it can put you in touch with more than 1 million lawyers who are anxiously waiting to help you solve your legal difficulties. With more than 1 million lawyers waiting to help you, it’s easy to hire a lawyer, but how do you choose the right one?
The only way to choose the right lawyer is through personal contact. Despite the millions of dollars lawyers spend annually in advertising, I would never recommend you hire one based solely on a lawyer’s advertising or website. (Hiring one based solely on his writings in L.I.N.K. Magazine is fully acceptable, though.) Depending on why you may need a lawyer, that person will become an important part of your life, even if only for a short while. The appropriate lawyer will not only be competent enough to help with your legal issue, but also someone you trust to get the job done in a professional manner.
Talk to friends, family and co-workers. Many of them, at one time or another, have worked with a lawyer or know one. (Trust me, lawyers are all around you: at the gym, at your child’s school, and in your neighborhood. We are not hard to find.) If the experience was positive, a referral will likely be quickly offered. Once you get that name, contact the lawyer and talk to him or her. If you feel a personal connection and are willing to put your faith in that lawyer, hire him or her as your attorney. If not, ask for a referral to someone else.
I practice civil law. This means I am not the person to call if you are in jail (though I have had to post bail for friends). I cannot help you with your divorce, child custody or child support concerns. I am not the person to call when you are in an accident (although I will visit you in the hospital). For anything other than that, feel free to call me. If, after we talk, I cannot help you or it does not seem like we are going to have a good rapport, I will be happy to refer you to someone else.
It may take several tries to find the right lawyer for you, but you should make the effort to find the best Paladin for your needs.
Phillip Addis, graduate of Hamline University School of Law, has been an attorney for over 25 years and a lifelong resident of La Crosse.
504 Main Street, Suite 200
La Crosse, WI 54601