//Background Check Your Legal Representation
For those of us who do not have the luxury of a family lawyer, or the friends connected to the right people… a proper background check can be used as a tool to find the right representation without being fluent in the rhetoric and confusing communities of the law.
Because this is such a big decision, (the last jury I sat under, a flustered attorney seem to mess up a case that might have already been doomed, resulting in FURTHER punishment—a bad situation gone much, much worse) you want someone who is confident, experienced in the niche you are seeking help in, and proven with his education and legal track record.
But the FIRST thing you need to do is ask yourself a few questions so you don’t go into this search blind.
- What kind of representation are looking for? Do you need someone to write a Will or retrieve custody of your children… These are two very different ends of the legal spectrum and you will need representation with the background and education that you will require.
- How much are you willing to spend? Legal fees stack up and in a hurry and those don’t usually even include ‘other’ fees for research or materials. What kind of payment plan could you work with if it was required?
- Be prepared to be awakened to why your friends call lawyers scoundrels (or maybe other things), their time is ‘valuable.’ Narrowing down a list of necessities and deal breakers… answer the question of how experienced of an individual you want. Is it more important to have someone with years of experience if not all the cases were considered successful vs. someone educated but young and inexperienced with high success in a short career?
- Do you know what retainers or retainer fees are? If you do not, look it up and be prepared to talk about it. The same thing goes with Malpractice insurance. How much will it cost you?
- What are your expectations? I put this last because everyone is going to work hard for you. Not every case is going to be winnable, but that does not mean every court decision has to be a complete loss. What do you want your representation to do for you?
10 Things to Identify in a Background Check of a Lawyer
- The attorney’s educational background. There are more good law schools out there besides the ones that are labeled ‘Ivy League.’ If the lawyer comes from a small school, do some research on the schools legal department and other people that have graduated from the program. Maybe a famous, retired Justice does lectures during Spring Semesters.
- Civil Background. Any cases against him or her? It is not just malpractice to watch out for, check his/her’s background beyond the realm of representation—not that he/she would still be practicing law if convicted of something serious, but it’s still worth looking at.
This guy was convicted of all sorts of things and still became a police officer in the K9 unit. The point is that the research is an important step, not one to be skipped.
The legal things to look for on a background check
- A list of all the cases the attorney has articipated in at the Federal level—Supreme court decisions or appeals courts. This is important if your case will require someone more experienced and educated beyond the normal realm of district court.
- A list of all the cases the attorney has participated in at the State level—Family, Divorce court. Questions with custody and family decisions?
- A list of all the cases the attorney has participated in at the County level—Civil court. These guys and girls have the experience working with the demographics and situations every day.
- Case numbers to everything. These should be recorded and most often public information. Not that a lawyer wouldn’t be honest … this information will keep them consistent.
- Within this trial history, ask to search the percentage of the cases where there was a positive outcome for the representation. It may not be that the representation has won every case, but it may provide insight on cases that were settled and why.
- Ask to receive detailed information regarding the Titles of the cases. The State of Minnesota vs. James I. Skrewup. This will usually give you the name of the defendant, plaintiffs, respondents, or pensioners which gives you something to Google to search the outcome of the case; which… again, should be public knowledge.
- If you don’t want to do the leg work, ask to receive the outcomes of the cases to be included in the background check.
Here’s the truth, and it’s not supposed to scare you… Lawyers are going to cost too much money. Invest in a proper background check or consumer report and double check their educational background, civil history, case work and outcomes. Have that information ready to go during your initial meeting with the potential representation.
Categories: Checking Lawyers