As with any lawyer, the question is frequently asked: how to choose a “good” lawyer? Here are some thoughts, quite personal, after more than ten years of this beautiful profession.
- Word of mouth
Word of mouth is probably the most common way to choose your lawyer and can be one of the least bad. If a family member, friend or colleague recommends a lawyer, you are more likely to make a good choice.
This method also has its limits. First, the lawyer who has defended your neighbor for his divorce may not be as competent to carry out the transfer of your business. Each lawyer has a duty of competence, it is necessary to question him, on this point, on the subjects in which he exercises. He can not claim to be able to litigate in all areas. In addition, your friend may have recommended a firm and not a particular lawyer. The lawyer who defended him five years ago may have left the cabinet that you are hearing about today. Finally, every human relationship is unique. If your brother was able to get along well with such a lawyer, this may not be the case for you, who do not have the same character, the same expectations or just the same story.
Word of mouth is therefore an interesting instrument of choice for his lawyer. Provided it is not used alone. It cannot be the only criterion of choice.
- The address
The quality of a lawyer is rarely (if ever) a function of the prestige of his address and the luxury of his premises. The marble staircase, the precious wood flooring, the moldings and the chimneys do not guarantee the seriousness and the competence of the lawyer who receives you. The decor of the cabinet is mainly to try to flatter the customer who is willing to pay for this decor in his notes of fees.
The lawyer who receives you may sublet may be a very small part of a luxury building. It is even possible to work at home and rent only a few hours a week a nice meeting room in a mansion. And if the entrance to the office is beautiful, the staff who will actually handle the files can, behind the scene, pile up in small uncomfortable rooms that the customer will never see.
Conversely, insanitary premises do not guarantee that the tenant of the premises is competent. Must we not attach any importance to the reception – beautiful or ugly – of the cabinet in the choice of his lawyer? Not quite.
On the one hand, the cabinet configuration must allow you to meet the ethical obligations of the lawyer. To be received, not in an “open space” but in a place that allows the secrecy of the exchanges is of course important. On the other hand, a lawyer who values the comfort of his team’s work already provides a service to the firm’s clients. Beyond the floors and the walls, it is especially the equipment of the cabinet that will make the difference, on the material level. Means of communication (e-mails, faxes, etc.), documentation, accounting and billing software … All these tools are useful for efficient file processing.
- The Bar
Should we turn to a lawyer whose firm is close to his home or the headquarters of his company? There is no definitive answer here. In reality, everything depends on the customer. If you wish to be able to be received very frequently by your lawyer without having to take the train, choose a lawyer who practices in your city, provided that there is a lawyer specialized in the required field, in the said city.
For the rest, unless I am mistaken, lawyers are not more competent in one city than in another. Before the administrative courts, lawyers can plead everywhere in France whatever their bar of origin. Before the civil courts, idem subject to appeal to a lawyer. Same for the fees. To my knowledge, no statistical study shows that they are higher or lower, here or elsewhere. It is often pointed out that in big cities, rents are higher. Yes and no. Our firm is located in a district located east of the capital where rents are reasonable and probably lower than this beautiful area of cities other than Paris.
The first reflex of a person – legal director of a company or individual – is often to consult the “references” of a law firm on its website. Firms presenting their credentials are doing so more and more often through press releases posted online. The fact remains that professional secrecy prohibits in principle a lawyer to reveal the name of his client. The latter may authorize him to do so. Still, the presentation of a “reference” is often general and does not specify what the lawyer did exactly for this or that client.
Attention also to the freshness of the information: the client cited among the references has since been able to change the lawyer or the lawyer has been able to leave the firm. I remain absolutely convinced that a client must choose a lawyer, not a firm. And I pass I pass on pseudo rankings devoid of any scientific value. The place of cabinet in these ” Perth’s best compensation solicitors” of the law is generally a function of the amount of the check given to the publisher and the price of the table reserved during a chic evening to receive a reward in plexi.
- Cross check the information.
Rather than content yourself with one source of information, it is useful to cross all available information. It is more and more rare that a law firm does not have a website or a blog on which it presents its skills and its conditions of intervention.
If you are an individual, you do not need to call a firm that says on its site defend only companies. If you are a business owner, check that the firm defends many legal persons. Some firms specialize in the defense of a specific type of company, others only advise public authorities. The website of a firm also gives information about the lawyers’ CV.