Local Or Non-Local
Beyond any other consideration, your lawyer absolutely has to be licensed to practice law and to represent other people in the lawsuit’s jurisdiction. Every state has a slightly different set of laws and precedents, and so every state also has a different bar association. The different types of federal court also have their own requirements when it comes to legal representation.
However, hiring a local law firm goes beyond sticking with someone in the same state. It also means you should find a firm whose lawyers are very familiar with the actual court where the lawsuit will play out. This way, your legal representative will most likely know the judge personally, along with the most likely opposition. That can come in handy since it can speed the process along and it means your lawyer will know the most common tricks used by your opponent’s team.
For instance, here at All Injuries Law Firm, we have two offices you can visit: one in Port Charlotte, and one in Fort Myers. So while our lawyers are licensed to practice law throughout Florida, our location makes us most convenient for the residents of Port Charlotte and most experienced with the circuit courts of southwest Florida.
Plaintiff Or Defendant
Most lawyers specialize in either criminal or civil law, at least at the state level. Beyond that, lawyers also usually represent either plaintiffs (or the prosecution) or defendants. Even the payment methods are different: plaintiff lawyers usually get paid on commission, which means they earn a significant fraction of the settlement or damage award if there is one, or they earn nothing at all if they lose.
Defense lawyers, on the other hand, are often paid with a retainer fee which lets you ask them to help you with certain legal tasks. You can also hire them by the hour or by the day to represent you for a specific case And if your case is complicated to the point where you’re both a plaintiff and a defendant, then you’ll be best off if you hire two different firms to represent you in both capacities.
“Civil law” is a very broad term, one which includes all kinds of state laws. Personal injury is one type of civil law, for instance, and other types include wrongful death and workers’ compensation. Different lawyers and law firms may have more or less experience with the laws relevant to the case, so it’s a good idea to make sure that your lawyers are entirely familiar with them before you hire anybody.
While you’re at it, you should also see how many times the law firm has gone all the way to court. Most lawsuits end before a jury has a chance to deliberate, but companies and insurance companies tend to pay attention to a lawyer’s record and see whether they’re ready to go all the way or whether they might feel pressure to wrap up the lawsuit. If it’s the second case, insurance lawyers will often take advantage of this pressure to force a lower settlement, so it’s always a good idea to pick a firm with the resources to spare for court cases.
So when you need to find a lawyer, make sure you understand all the different aspects of the profession and then do some research on the records of your local options. If you do, you’ll have the best chance of hiring exactly the firm you need to get the best results possible.