Is there anyone (who doesn’t practice law) who can tell you exactly what a lawyer does? We’re vaguely familiar with their work through media, but reality and movies aren’t always on the same page about things. Finding the right lawyer is tough, especially because there are so many aspects of the law that lawyers decide to specialize in. If you’re looking for a good commercial litigation lawyer, you’ll find yourself swamped with contacts and unsure who to contact in the first place. In order to find the best one for you, your business, and your needs, there is a certain procedure you should follow.
Don’t focus on experience alone
While this may seem like a counterproductive tip, you don’t always need a lawyer who has been practicing for decades. Regardless of how many years of experience they have under their belt, they might not be the right fit for you. Sometimes a lawyer who has just set their foot out of law school can handle your case with professionalism and elegance that will put their older and more experienced colleagues to shame. They are also great for small claims, and they can work well as second-in-command on a much larger file; but on the other hand, they can sometimes shy away from technology. A known lawyer who has decades of experience can easily be a disaster, so don’t hesitate to look for a commercial litigation lawyer who’s had five years of experience.
Beware of those who say “yes” to everything
When you find a litigation lawyer who agrees with each and every point you make right from the start, you might feel like this would be a match made in heaven. In reality, it’s quite opposite and it’s a legitimate sign for concern. The litigator who readily says yes to your every word and suggestion is trying to ‘lure’ you in to sign a contract. Instead, they should be using all of their expertise and experience to help you understand that your case can have different outcomes no matter how straightforward it might seem to you. Experienced and professional litigation lawyer is going to work closely with their client to ensure that their expectations are set right. You should tell them what your expectations are, but a great lawyer will certainly set them right if they’re not realistic. Anyone who promises to do every single thing you ask of them probably has their eyes set on the fee rather than protecting your interests.
Ask them the right questions
Once you find the right litigation lawyer, it’s time to have an open and honest discussion with them. This will ensure that they understand the specifics of your case and that you have found the lawyer that has relevant experience. You can ask them whether or not they’ve handled cases like yours in the past – you want someone who has successfully handled different business disputes, of course. Feel free to pick their brain and see what course of action they would recommend you do. See if there are different options for handling your case and talk to them to find the right one for you. Experienced litigation lawyers will be able to tell you whether or not you should go to a hearing or try mediation instead.
Ask for a referral
One of the oldest ways in the book to find a good lawyer is to ask someone who’s been in a similar situation as you and to ask them for a referral. Don’t just stop at one person and one case – keep asking questions left and right, talk to a dozen people if possible to find out what their cases looked like and who handled them. Ask if they were happy with their lawyers and don’t hesitate to ask for explanations (the way they did their hair and the smell of their cologne isn’t a good enough reason not to like a lawyer, to be honest). Still, it’s important to remember that just because someone you know was very happy with their lawyer, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right person for you and your case. You are going to have to talk to several lawyers if you’re hoping to find the right one, because this is not a decision you want to make lightly.
Go through court records
While it might make you feel like some sort of detective or a super-spy, going through court records is perfectly legal. Luckily, there are several free databases accessible to public that focus on court decisions, and we advise you to go through those when looking for a commercial litigation lawyer. This is best to do after you already have a lawyer’s name in mind because it allows you to run their name through the database and see what kind of cases they were involved in. Litigation lawyers’ names often pop up in these records, but even if you can’t find as many cases as you thought you would, just remember that excellent lawyers often manage to settle before even going to court. Which brings us to the next point…
Set realistic expectations
We were all pretty much conditioned by the media to believe that so-called “shark lawyers” never ever lose a case and that they’re like law machines. Just like many great lawyers settle outside the court so you can’t find their names in a lot of cases, there are amazing lawyers who still happen to lose their cases. Just because they lost a case, doesn’t mean they’re not competent and reliable. Even the best of the best will lose a case from time to time, and it shouldn’t deter you from hiring them. When going through court records, it’s a good idea to take time and read what the judge had to say about the lawyer and their work. This will allow you to see what a judge though about the lawyer’s competence, ethics, and diligence regardless of whether they won the case or not.
Discuss their fee in advance
We understand that, for a lot of people, the matter of money is pretty important, if not the most important thing about their upcoming case. This is why you should talk openly to a litigation lawyer who you’re thinking of hiring and understand exactly how their fees work. Depending on their practice, they might charge you by the hour, but it’s not always the case. Different staff will probably charge you at different rates, and their years of experience play a significant role in how they set their fees. Those with more experience will definitely cost more, but the best thing you can ask them to do is to give you an estimate of their fees. While it’s going to be virtually impossible to estimate the entire case at the very beginning, a good company should be able to send you a Costs Agreement document.
Be ready to pay a hefty fee
People who have a bit more experience with the law and lawyers will often tell you that lawyers work in rather vague and mysterious ways. As funny as this saying is, it’s also entirely true, and if you’re hoping to find someone who is worth their salt, you’re going to need to do a lot of digging. Not just that, but you should also be ready to pay their fees, no matter how high you might find them. The best lawyers are pricey for a reason, and you don’t want to get into trouble with the law or lose your case just because you weren’t prepared to pay for excellent service of the best commercial litigation lawyer you could find.
Make peace with what’s coming
When you have an upcoming case in court, you should be aware that anything and everything even remotely relevant to the case will be investigated. These kids of investigations sometimes include detectives and the police, but they almost always include lawyer companies as well. Depending on the part of the world where you live and the kind of case you have ahead, you might feel like your work and your life are put under a microscope. This is why you should pick your commercial litigation lawyer carefully – you should be able to trust them with your information and you should be comfortable sharing information with them. They will look at your case from several angles, sometimes making you think that they’re actively trying to go against you in. Make peace with this and try to remember that all the resources and approaches they are using are for your own benefit.
One of the downsides of owning your own company is that you’re probably going to need a commercial litigation lawyer’s services at least once. When the stakes are high, you really should think about covering all of your options. It’s incredibly easy to lose control of things when emotions are high, and once you add professional relationships, money, and business risks to the mix, you can end up with a proper disaster. Finding the right lawyer might be tough, but once you get them, it’s important to work closely with them and listen to their advice and opinions.