Home » What to Know When Hiring a Lawyer

I’d like to talk to you today about the subject of lawyers and what kind of lawyer you should hire for what any particular issue that you might have. First off, there are criminal lawyers, there are divorce lawyers, there are corporate lawyers, there are tax lawyers, there are personal injury lawyers, workers compensation lawyers and then general practice lawyers just to name a few. Our firm practices personal injury law in Belleville, IL.

When you have a legal issue you should always talk to somebody who has experience in the area of law that you need. For example, if you’re a in a situation where you have some criminal charges against you, go hire the very best criminal lawyer that you can afford. I would suggest that you not hire somebody who does divorces and who knows nothing about criminal law. Likewise, if you are in a situation where you’re getting a divorce I think your best bet would be to hire someone who you know focuses on family law.

Do some research on the lawyer that you’re going to hire. In Illinois there’s no specialization distinction for lawyers. We cannot hold ourselves out as specialists in any particular kind of law, but we can outline what kind of work we do on our websites or advertisements.

Some lawyers outline on their website the different areas of law that they practice and some go on to even include things that they don’t practice in. So, the message to you is to interview your lawyer. Make sure that you’re going to get what you want to pay for.

Another consideration is understanding that there are two different types of lawyer fee arrangements: the first we’ll discuss is called a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee is where the lawyer doesn’t charge the client until the case is finished and that attorney fee is then based on an agreed percentage of the recovery that the lawyer gets for you.

In other words, the lawyer in the contingency fee model is putting in his time, his energy and his effort in on your case with the idea that he’s going to recover for you in the end. What’s the effect of that? Sometimes clients have pointed out that this type of payment arrangement keeps the lawyer on his toes, because the more money he or she gets for the client translates to a larger amount of money for the attorney.

Lawyers that do personal injury or workers compensation law in Belleville, IL are the ones that tend to do contingency fee arrangements. This fee arrangement is generally not seen in anything else.

The other type of fee for lawyers that you’ll most often see in divorce cases, family law, criminal law, tax law etc. is an hourly fee and sometimes the lawyer will charge the client an up front retainer. For example, the retainer might be $2000, maybe it’s ten thousand dollars, or maybe it’s twenty thousand dollars, depending on the nature of the problem that you have.

The retainer is typically based on an estimate of the amount of time that the lawyer thinks it’s going to take to get you to a certain point in your case the lawyer then puts that retainer in his escrow account. Then, when you call him or meet with him or he or she has to go to the courthouse for a particular reason related to your case, he takes down his time, charges you a specific amount of money and then takes that from the retainer at some point along the way. 

If that retainer runs out or is depleted due to the attorney’s charges, the lawyer will ask you for more money or you’ll set up a billing arrangement to charge you periodically. Again, you don’t generally see that in personal injury cases or workers compensation cases or any type of case where the recovery comes at the end of the case.

Another thing to mention about hiring a lawyer is the amount of costs involved in his representation. When it’s a contingency fee arrangement like a personal injury case such as the cases I handle, or a workers compensation case, the lawyer will pay those costs up front and then, at the end of the case, he’ll get those costs back from the recovery.

Typically the lawyer will not recoup those costs if you go down the road have a jury trial and the case is lost. This type of payment plan is a risk-free situation for you. In a contingency fee basis in a situation, where the lawyer is charging by the hour, you may very well get a bill as your case goes along for whatever cost the attorney might incur. Examples of these costs might be cost for a court reporter, cost for an expert witness, or just copying costs.

Finally, there have been a lot of advertisements lately on TV about the world’s largest personal injury firm or one or another boast about the size of a law firm. When you’re interviewing a law firm, don’t just go by the size of the law firm. They might have 500 lawyers but if none of them are any good those 500 lawyers don’t mean anything to you or your case.

Do an interview your prospective lawyer. Talk to him or her and find out who is the best fit for you. You want somebody that knows what they’re doing in that particular field and you want somebody that you’re comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable with the lawyer don’t hire them.

If you would like to discuss your case with us, call us at: (618) 239-6070