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How to Find a Good Attorney – Part Three

Businesspeople in front of a bookcase

How to find an attorney may be the most important step you can take toward winning a legal case and it doesn’t have to be a difficult task. You will, however, need to take your time with the search. Focus your efforts on finding a lawyer that has dealt with your specific legal issue in the past and that you get along with personally. Taking the time to find the right lawyer will be worth it, as they are more likely to help you win your case.

Considering the Costs

Understand how attorneys charge for their services. Typically, there are three major ways that attorneys bill for their services: a flat fee, a contingency fee or hourly fees.

  • An attorney charging a flat fee will charge one fee (sometimes upfront) for handling an entire matter, regardless of how many hours the matter takes. Some examples of cases that are commonly handled using a flat fee are criminal cases, bankruptcy cases, domestic relations cases (such as divorce or custody matters), and document drafting, such as drafting a will or a trust document.
  • An attorney charging a contingency fee does not collect legal fees from the client unless the attorney recovers money for the client, either through a settlement or a trial. The attorney will receive a percentage of the settlement amount, usually between 30 to 40 percent. Some examples of cases that are commonly handled on a contingency fee basis are personal injury cases, employment discrimination cases, and other types of cases where a large recovery from a corporation or business is expected.
  • Lawyers charging an hourly rate “bill” hours and then charge the client for the amount of hours worked on the client’s matter. Usually, hourly rates are used by businesses and corporations who may be involved in litigation. Additionally, individuals may be charged hourly rates for long or complicated litigation.

 Negotiate a fee. Budget what you are able to spend, and ask if the attorney will be able to handle your case for the amount you budgeted. Additionally, you should make sure to tell your attorney that he or she should inform you before doing anything on your case that takes it out of budget.

  • Keep in mind that even with a strict budget, if your case becomes significantly more complicated or takes significantly longer than the attorney originally anticipated, you may need to pay more in legal fees.
  • If you cannot afford the attorney’s fees upfront, ask about potential arrangements such as payment plans. Many attorneys are willing to work with you base on your financial needs.
  • There are several ways that attorneys can help those on moderate or low incomes find legal counsel. Many firms offer “sliding fees” based on your income, so that you pay however much your income level allows. You can sometimes even pay in barter, by trading goods or services (e.g., web design, gardening) for legal counsel.  This is up to the individual attorney.

Execute an engagement letter or retainer. Your attorney will provide you with an engagement letter or retainer. This is a contract between you and your attorney that defines the nature of the legal engagement you are involved in, and the conditions and terms of your agreement with your attorney.

  • These conditions should include the expenses you are responsible for, the rate the attorney will be charging and the minimum billable increment. Note: the minimum billable increment should be six minutes, not 15 minutes.

Tips

  • Consider firing your attorney for doing any of the following: missing filing or court dates, refusing to give you updates on the status of your case, not answering phone calls and emails, and not being honest and forthright when you ask questions.
  • To get the best results from your case, cooperate with your attorney. Always provide all requested documents, and don’t skip hearings. A good attorney will certainly help you in your case, but there is only so much an attorney can do without cooperation from you.

For more information on finding a good attorney, please click here.

How to Find a Good Attorney – Part Two

Businesspeople in front of a bookcase

Finding a good attorney may be the most important step you can take toward winning a legal case and it doesn’t have to be a difficult task. You will, however, need to take your time with the search. Focus your efforts on finding a lawyer that has dealt with your specific legal issue in the past and that you get along with personally. Taking the time to find the right lawyer will be worth it, as they are more likely to help you win your case.

Choosing an Attorney

 Make an appointment with any attorneys remaining on your list. Contact each attorney and set up a consultation. Most attorneys do consultation appointments for free. However, some may charge a small fee for a consultation. Make certain that you know whether you will be charged, and don’t make an appointment with an attorney who isn’t forthcoming about these details.

  • Most attorneys offer consultations for free. Start your search with these before you consult with an attorney who charges for initial consultations.
  • If you do not live in the same state as the attorney, you can schedule a phone consultation instead of an in-person meeting. However, because you will usually want your attorney to appear with you in court, you should try to find a local attorney to represent you.

Write out questions about the lawyer’s practice. You can generally find out the basic information about the attorney online, such as how long s/he has been practicing, where s/he went to law school, etc. For your in-person questions, ask about matters that are relevant to your specific case. The attorney should not have any problem answering any questions you may have, and should not sound hesitant or unsure. Areas to ask about include questions about the following:

  • You should ask whether the attorney offers hourly pricing or flat fees? Flat fee pricing is very popular for many areas of practice, particularly things like family law.
  • Delivery time for legal work.You should ask how quickly you can expect for the attorney to complete your legal project. Your attorney will likely not be able to give you an exact number, but s/he should be able to tell you how long previous, similar cases have taken and when you can likely expect a resolution.
  • Success rate.You will probably want to ask what the attorney’s track record is with cases like yours. Attorneys cannot guarantee an outcome (they are ethically forbidden to do so) but you should have an idea of what results you can reasonably expect. You can also ask for references from prior clients. Be aware that the attorney must obtain permission from prior clients before s/he can give you their information, so you may not get references immediately.
  • You should ask how quickly the attorney can start. You should also ask who your primary contact throughout the case will be. Will you hear mostly from an assistant or junior colleague? You should know who to contact with questions about your case.
  • If the attorney has misconduct or reprimands on his or her record – which you can find out at your state’s bar association website – ask about them. In some cases, the infraction may be minor, such as failure to pay bar fees on time. You must decide whether the infraction is significant enough to disturb you.

Bring documents or information to the meeting. The lawyer may ask you to bring certain documents, but you should also bring any that you think are important to the case. Gather these documents ahead of time to be sure that you can locate them on the day of the appointment.

Attend your consultations. Meet with, or talk to, each of the lawyers you selected. Feel free to take notes while talking to each one, so that you can remember later what each attorney said and what your initial impressions were.

  • Remember that you are interviewing the attorney for a job. Treat your meeting as such, a job interview. If you feel as though the attorney isn’t listening to you or isn’t answering your questions, pick a different attorney.

Choose an attorney that you feel comfortable with. Aside from experience and strong knowledge of the law, choose an attorney who you think that you would get along with and like working with.

  • If the attorney makes you uncomfortable in any way, you should choose someone different to represent you.
  • Also consider how well the attorney answered your questions. If s/he hesitated, used too much “legalese,” or didn’t attend to your needs, pick someone else.
  • If more than one attorney has the qualifications you are looking for, you should choose the one that you feel the most comfortable with.

http://www.wikihow.com/Find-a-Good-Attorney

How to Find a Good Attorney – Part One

Businesspeople in front of a bookcase

Finding a good attorney may be the most important step you can take toward winning a legal case and it doesn’t have to be a difficult task. You will, however, need to take your time with the search. Focus your efforts on finding a lawyer that has dealt with your specific legal issue in the past and that you get along with personally. Taking the time to find the right lawyer will be worth it, as they are more likely to help you win your case.

Finding Potential Attorneys

Determine what type of attorney you need. It is always preferable to locate an attorney who has specialized expertise in the practice area that your case involves (e.g., malpractice law, bankruptcy law, etc.). It’s also a good idea to find attorney familiar with the courts and laws of the area where you live. This will enable your attorney to best represent your interests. Some examples of practice areas include:[1]

  • Bankruptcy law. This will be helpful if you are struggling with your finances.
  • Criminal law. An attorney who specializes in criminal law is important if your case involves a crime or potentially illegal activity.
  • Disability specialist. Disability specialists can handle Social Security and/or veteran’s disability claims.
  • Trusts and estates. This type of lawyer deals with issues such as estate planning, qualifying for Medicaid, probating an estate, and obtaining guardianship of an elderly parent or grandparent.
  • Family Law. Family law attorneys handle matters such as separation, divorce, pre-nuptial agreements, adoption, guardianship, child custody and support.
  • Personal injury law. Personal injury attorneys handle cases involving medical malpractice, dog bites, car accidents and any injury to a person that may be the fault of another.
  • Employment law. Employment attorneys can help your business set up employment policies or handle cases where either an employee sues a business for wrongful termination or a where a business is sued.
  • Small business or corporate law. If you are looking to establish a business, a small business attorney or corporate attorney is your best choice.

Contact your local bar association for qualified attorneys in your area. State bar associations keep public records about complaints and disciplinary actions taken against attorneys licensed to practice in the state. Most local bar associations also have free referral services that can help you find an attorney to suit your case’s needs.

  • You can find your bar association’s website by selecting your state from the State & Local Bar Associations page provided by the American Bar Association.

Review online listings of attorneys. Many websites offer free reviews of businesses. Some places to look for lawyer reviews include: LegalZoom, Rocketlawyer, LawTrades, and Avvo.com.

  • Some websites, such as LawHelp.org, focus on helping low-income individuals find attorneys.
  • Cross reference reviews from more than one website. This will help counter any bias in reviews you find.

Get referrals and recommendations from friends and family. Talk to friends and family members who used an attorney. Find out who they hired, for what type of service, if they were happy with the services, and why or why not. Ask if they would recommend the attorney.

Make a list of the potential attorneys you have found in your area. Include the attorney’s name, address, phone number and website address. This will help you organize your search as you move forward.

Review each attorney’s website. You will want to look for information about the type of law the attorney practices. In addition, look for background information on the attorney, such as his or her law school and areas of specialization.

  • Look for some general information about the type of legal issue you need help with, including a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section, or a blog with articles pertaining to your legal issue. The best attorneys will maintain well-developed websites offering a lot of information.
  • Most attorneys’ websites will provide information about each attorney working for the firm. Take a look at each attorney’s educational background and work history.
  • Typically, you should look for an attorney with at least three to five years of experience practicing the type of law you need help with. Additionally, you should choose an attorney that currently practices in the area you need help with.
  • Remember that many attorneys are also on social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. Check these profiles as well. How an attorney conveys him- or herself to the public may help you get a sense of how you would be able to work with him or her.

Keep in mind that the size of the firm may matter. Law firms can vary in size ranging from one attorney to many attorneys, so you need to choose a law firm that you think will be best suited to your situation. Big corporations may want to hire a big-time firm to handle extremely complicated, often international, legal matters. However, if you are simply looking for someone to help you with your divorce or to help you write a will, you should feel comfortable hiring an attorney from a smaller firm.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

For more information on how to find a good attorney and this post, please visit WikiHow.com.

Going to Court: How To Dress For Your First Court Appearance With Your Attorney

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It’s important that clients are adequately prepared for court. Usually, the first court date consists of us filing an appearance, receiving any discovery that the state has, or setting a discovery status date so that the state has about a month to procure and tender the first batch of discovery. It may seem like not much happens on the first court date, but a lot does. And your first appearance in court with your attorney, before the judge and the prosecutor, is very important. Here are some things to remember.

Show up early.

You are told that your court date is at 9:30AM. It does not matter that, according to your attorney or according to your own personal experience, nothing gets rolling at your particular courthouse until 10:10. If the time of the call is 9:30, aim to be at least 20 minutes early. Aside from the obvious hang-ups like traffic, there are often long lines to get into the courthouse. Your attorney can afford to walk in at 10:00AM: he or she may have had a morning commitment, or may be very familiar with the judge, and very likely has a Sheriff’s ID that allows him or her to bypass the lines. That doesn’t matter. Your job is to show up early.

Take out the fun piercings.

So you know that cute tragis piercing that always gets you complimented? The multiple silver hoops usually lining the shell of your ear? That tongue piercing, or that stud in your nose? Take them out. The courthouse is not the place to express your individuality. Keep them in the car and put them on as soon as you’re done – that’s your business. But play it safe and take them out before court.

Cover up tattoos.

Granted, a peace sign on your wrist is not going to raise as many eyebrows as a dagger inked onto your cheek, but I hope you take the point. Again, the courthouse is not the place to express your individuality. If you have tattoos, cover them up. If you’ve got something inked on your arms or legs, wear long sleeves or long pants. If you’ve got ink on your hands or someplace similarly conspicuous, there’s not a whole lot you can do, so do your best not to call attention to it. If you have a smaller design on your face, consider some concealer and foundation, or don’t bother. Consulting your attorney would probably be prudent in that case. Your attorney will likely know the personality of the judge in your case, or will be able to find out, so if the attorney feels that the judge is rather conservative and will not appreciate such forms of art, he or she might advise makeup. Otherwise, they might tell you not to worry about it.

Dress nicely.

You’ve probably heard it before, but take it to heart: DRESS NICELY. Don’t rent a tuxedo, but seriously, leave the yoga pants and tattered jeans at home. You would not believe the kind of outfits I see during the course of my practice in Cook County, where I’m in court usually two or three days a week. Dress formally, in a suit, or go with a business-casual ensemble. Consider leaving the jeans at home and go with a pair of slacks, or if you’re a woman, a knee-length skirt. This is not the time to be creative or show how fashion-forward you are, much less how risque-you can be. Forget the miniskirt, forget the cargo shorts, and forget the halter tops. Wear a skirt suit. Wear slacks and a sweater. Wear pants and at least a half-sleeve length blouse. If you are having a clothing emergency and need to show up in a pair of jeans, dress them up. For men, throw on a sweater and a dress shirt with it; for women, add a pair of appropriate heels and throw on a blazer over your top. Don’t bother with the five inch heels or the tennis shoes. Go with sensible shoes, heeled or not, that are clean and presentable. Hide stains and rips the best you can, if they happen on the fly. For women, consider keeping a light scarf in your purse to hide the fact that you spilled coffee on yourself while driving to court. Court personnel appreciate it when defendants show proper respect for the court, and that includes attire. Your attorney will (or should) show up to court dressed to impress. So should you. Remember, everyone is watching.

Consider leaving your prominent brand names at home.

This is an interesting point that few people seem to consider the way they should. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a Hilfiger dress shirt, with the logo on the cuff, or a pair of Tory Burch flats with the identifying buckle prominently displayed. But there are certain brands and images that are associated with gang activity. For example, in the counties in which I practice, the brand Ecko with the rhinocerous image is known to raise eyebrows among judges and prosecutors because, rightfully or not, it is associated with gangsters or at the very least, gangster wannabes. There are other brands that are associated with such activity like Sean John, Timbaland, Baby Phat, and others. I’m sure you’ve spotted the theme here: that brands associated with minorities and creative minority culture (I believe Ecko became popular among the youth skater set) are viewed unfavorably. While that may be the case and it’s absolutely terrible if it is, now is not the time to change the world or stick it to the man. You are in court to fight for your rights, for your freedom, for your record. Leave the Ecko sweatshirt at home and wear a cable-knit from Walmart instead if you have to. This is the kind of advice we give to our younger clients, especially, since they tend to be or imagine themselves to be part of the youth counterculture. There is nothing wrong with that, but again: court is not the place to show off your individuality or express yourself.

Tame your hair.

Bedhead? Not attractive. Don’t pay so much attention to your clothing that you forget your hair! Brush it, style it, do whatever you want with it, but keep a few things in mind. If your hair has washable dye in it because you wanted blue hair yesterday, wash it out before you go to court. If it’s permanent/semi-permanent dye, at least style that blue hair respectably. If you’ve noticed a theme being developed here, it’s that court is not the place to express yourself. Make sure your hair is trimmed and neat and washed. If you’re a woman with longer hair, don’t opt for the messy ponytail or some crazy-elaborate style. A neatly brushed ponytail, or your hair half pinned up is a good option. You want it out of your face, and you don’t want it attracting undue attention.

Ah, the makeup.

If you want to wear makeup, wear it. If you don’t want to wear it, don’t wear it. If you’re not going to wear it, all that matters is that your face is clean. If you are going to wear it, maybe skip the false lashes, the hot pink blush, the bright red lipstick, and the crazy contouring. I’m being silly here, but I hope you understand that the point here is not to stand out, nor to turn any heads. Opt for something sedate and natural looking.

Odor.

Shower beforehand, and make sure your clothes are clean. Not wore-them-once-or-twice-so-they’re-probably-fine. Clean. Dry clean them if they require that kind of treatment. Iron them. Lay them out the night before so you’re not tempted to run out in a wrinkled shirt just because you want to get there on time. Use mouthwash or keep some mints in your purse or pocket, just in case your coffee-breath is a little more rank than you’d like. Don’t bathe in cologne, but consider using a little bit, or a dab of perfume.

Nails.

Now I feel like I’m nitpicking, but some people might benefit from this, which is why I’m even discussing it at all. If you have three inch long acryllic nails, consider removing them. If you’re wearing electric blue nail polish, maybe you’d be better off removing it. If you’re wearing bright red nail polish, maybe you needn’t bother. You don’t need to remove your nail polish just because you’re going to court, but try to be sensible about the color and the nail art. Keep these tips in mind when you’re standing in front of your closet on the morning of your first, second, third, or fiftieth court appearance, and you’ll look the part. Remember: your goal is to look clean, presentable, well-groomed, and like the fine, upstanding member of society that you are. Do not give anyone the smallest excuse to look at you askance based on what you’re wearing or how your hair is styled. Court appearances are stage-acting, and this is your costume.

For more information about appropriate dress for the courts, please visit Avvo.com.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice. Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

Worker’s Comp & Returning to Work: Answering Your Top 5 Questions After You’ve Recovered

Back to work written on a memo at the office

There can be a lot of trepidation about returning to your job after filing a workers compensation claim against your employer but it is important for both the company and yourself personally to get back into the swing of things as smoothly as possible. The activity will benefit you mentally and physically and your employee will not be working shorthanded any longer.

You may have some questions about what to expect upon your return so we’ve taken the time to answer your 5 most common return to work questions we get asked daily.

1. I’m ready to go back. Is my job still guaranteed to me?

Worker’s Compensation Law does not mandate that your employer retain your job while you are on medical leave. In most, but not all, cases employers are very accepting of the employee returning to work. It is best to touch base with your employer during your recovery time so you’ll know where you stand when you are ready to return to work.

2. Can I continue my medical treatments after going back to work?

You definitely can and should continue to follow your doctor’s orders when coming off of a workers compensation hiatus. The cost of your medication and treatments may also be continued to be covered by your employer depending on the specifics of your case. You may also need to lose time from work for continued treatments and recovery. Workers compensation may continue to be paid under the policy of ‘Intermittent Time Loss’. You will need to report to the Worker’s Compensation Board, your attorney and your insurance company concerning your lost time and provide proof from medical excuses and pay stubs.

3. What happens if I come back and can’t do my job?

If you return to work and find your injury keeps you from completing the tasks at hand, you might have to request a collection of workers compensation benefits again. Depending on the extent of your injuries and the type of work available at your employer’s business, you may be able to ask your employer for a different set of job duties as you continue to recover. There may not be something else for you to do but it’s good practice to ask for the temporary job change. If this is not possible, the Worker’s Compensation Board offers resources for new job training and possible job placement.

4. Can other employers reject me because of my worker’s compensation claim?

Under the law, a potential employer is prohibited from asking you about worker’s compensation claim history. You are not to be denied a job based on a compensation claim that is current or long gone in the past. In the same way, your present employer can not fire you for filing a claim. If you are denied a job, or fired from your existing one due to compensation-related issues, contact your attorney immediately for assistance and advise.

5. I went back to work after an injury but never filed a worker’s compensation claim. What do I do now?

It is important to know that you have two years from the date of the injury to file a workers compensation claim. Even if you recovered and went back to work, you still have the right to file a claim and seek compensation for the time you were hurt and unable to work. It can be intimidating to work in a place you’ve taken legal action against but if you are following the regulations and the injury is legitimate, it is in your best interest to seek the legal advice of an experienced workers compensation lawyer before moving forward.

For more information on worker’s comp and returning back to work, please visit TheDisabilityGuys.com.

Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for legal advice.  Laws change from time to time, so if you are injured, protect your rights and call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm online.

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Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone: 618-529-2440
Fax: 618-457-2680
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Herrin, IL 62948
Phone: 618-993-0911
Fax: 618-998-9991
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Serious personal injury lawyers for serious cases! Call today at 1-800-598-2440 or contact the Womick Law Firm for immediate attention.

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