Written By: Patrick Brown and Cassandra De Marco, Summer Student
Choosing to pursue legal action is a big decision that comes with unknown territory. This can be scary and might deter someone from taking the legal action they have a right to take. But, choosing the right lawyer can alleviate this stress, and be the primary vehicle for success.
When selecting a lawyer there are several things you as the client should consider. The lawyer’s specialization, the length of their practice and experience, the resources they have access to, their reputation, their success rate, and the personal connection you feel with your potential lawyer are just the first things to consider when selecting a lawyer.
Specialization, Length of Practice, and Experience
The first thing to consider is the area of law a lawyer practices in. Law is a very intricate field, with rules and regulations specific to that area. It is important to look for a lawyer who specializes in the area of law that your case involves. One way a person can determine specialization is to inquire if the lawyer has a specialty designation by the Law Society of Ontario. The Law Society regulates the legal profession and determines who qualifies for one of their specialty designations. For instance, if you have a family law matter, you may wish to see if they have that designation. For those seeking a personal injury lawyer, you may wish to see if they are certified specialists in civil litigation. Of course, this is only one factor. Other areas to consider is how long they have practiced in one area, is that the only area they practice, or do they or the firm do other things.
One way of determining whether a lawyer has ample experience is to find out if they teach other lawyers in the same practice area. Do they present at legal conferences? Are they recognized leaders in associations connected to that practice area? Do they write legal texts in the practice area? Have judges made judicial comments on their abilities? These are only some of the factors one can look at when determining how experienced the lawyer is. By taking the time and looking at real practical indicators, one can navigate the level of experience the lawyer has. It is also important to consider the internal resources that the lawyer has available to them inside the firm. Do they have a team and does it include associates, law clerks, legal assistants, accident benefit coordinators, or articling students. As well, are they able to access top notch expert witnesses and do they have the resources to finance them. This experience, training and access to resources will ensure your case runs smoothly and will provide you with more opportunities to succeed.
Reputation and Success Rate
The reputation of a lawyer is something that should always be considered by a potential client. Word of mouth is always important, however not everyone has access to those who are familiar with the legal community or that area of legal practice. One option is to search and see if the lawyer is recognized on legitimate peer review sites. These are sites where lawyers will vote on who they would recommend clients to or who they believe are good in their respective fields. These sites include BestLawyers Canada, Lexpert Toronto, Canadian Lawyer Magazine, LSO Certified Specialist program. It is important to consider a lawyer’s reputation in the legal community. A lawyer with an excellent reputation will be known to provide quality services and typically have a strong track record of success. It is also important that if you are pursuing an area of litigation, does the lawyer go to trial from time to time? Although the vast majority of cases resolve outside the courtroom, there is something to be said of having a lawyer that is able to go to trial in the event the other side is not being reasonable or fair.
The connection you have with a lawyer has the possibility to enhance your legal experience. Something to consider is whether the lawyer has a connection to your case in some way. For example, if your case revolves around a crash, it might be beneficial to look for a lawyer that has a large interest in promoting and enhancing road safety. Knowing your lawyer has an interest in your case can help you feel confident in the decision you made to choose them as a lawyer.
It is also important to consider how you feel when meeting them. Ask yourself whether you feel comfortable with them. Pursuing legal action is not an easy feat, and so having someone you feel comfortable with will make the challenge substantially easier. Feeling comfortable with your lawyer will allow you to have open communication. The more comfortable you feel, the easier it will be to share details about your case and about your experiences. Feeling comfortable with your lawyer will also allow you to build trust which is imperative to your case. Trusting your lawyer is knowing they have your best interest in mind. This will allow you to hand your case over and know that you are in the best care. You may also wish to meet the team that will be handling the case. Lawyers are not the only key to success. A good personal injury lawyer has a good team, and it is never a bad idea to ask if you could meet them in office or virtually.
Choosing a personal injury lawyer can be a difficult decision and so it is important to take your time and find the best lawyer for you. Considering these areas will help you find the lawyer that is the right fit for your needs. It is incredibly important to ensure your goals and the goals of your lawyer are aligned to ensure your case is handled with care and professionalism. Choosing the right lawyer will help make a stressful experience as easy as you can imagine.