Hiring a Lawyer in Pompano Beach, FL
Many businesses will retain the services of a legal firm because they realize that it’s essential for the ongoing well-being of their company. Few individuals, however, ever think to contact an attorney before they require legal advice. As personal injury attorneys serving accident victims in Pompano Beach and Broward County, FL, most of the potential clients who contact Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A. are reacting to unexpected injuries that they’ve sustained due to another’s negligence.
We recognize that not everyone who contacts our Pompano Beach office knows that they’re hiring a top-tier law firm. While there are other reputable personal injury firms in the area, there are also some that aren’t experienced enough to handle the more complex cases or have limited themselves to one particular type of personal injury law. This is why we’ve developed these guidelines for individuals and businesses who may be seeking a legal firm but don’t know where to begin. If you’ve been injured in an accident in South Florida, contact LJW immediately. Otherwise, use this guide to assist you in your search.
Matching the Area of Practice to Your Needs
Most people know that there are different types of attorneys. Unlike the medical industry, where you have general practitioners and specialists, nearly every attorney in the legal industry is a specialist. Even large legal firms that have multiple practice areas are generally divided into groups of attorneys for each area of specialization.
The United States is a nation of laws, and civil lawyers ensure that the rules for marriage, commerce, negligence, etc., are enforced. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Instead, we listed the types of attorneys a private individual might require.
Personal Injury Lawyers
Personal injury attorneys provide an invaluable service for injured parties. While accident victims can usually file claims directly with insurance providers, they are up against professional adjusters who will almost invariably offer less than the victim’s case is worth. Personal injury lawyers represent the victims in all phases of their pursuit of accident damages.
Family Law Attorneys
Also known as divorce lawyers, family law attorneys represent a single party in disputes involving divorce, child custody, spousal support, child support, etc. They can also prepare prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
Estate Planning Lawyers
These attorneys help their clients prepare their estates for death or catastrophic injuries. Among the services they provide are will preparation, power of attorney agreements, trusts, living wills, etc.
While this may be closely related to estate planning, probate actually deals with the division of an estate after the death of the principal. Probate lawyers can represent family members when they are contesting a will or when the principal died intestate.
Individuals who wish to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy need legal counsel to navigate these complex processes.
Intellectual Property Lawyers
While most engineering and development companies keep IP attorneys on retainer, individuals and small groups also require their services. IP lawyers specialize in patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
There are many businesses and individuals who require visas for family members or workers. Immigration attorneys help ensure that the process of bringing individuals into the country goes smoothly.
Florida law draws a distinct line between criminal and civil law. Criminal defense lawyers defend the rights of the accused. One of the main distinctions between civil in criminal law is the burden of proof. In civil law, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, which is often a company or a private citizen, while in criminal law, the prosecution is always a government entity.
Determining Resources and Budgets
Once you determine the type of lawyer you require, it’s important to understand how the various types of firms receive compensation for their services.
Most legal firms require a retainer fee upfront. The legal firm gets to determine what amount they’ll accept as a retainer, and they’ll deduct their time from that retainer as they perform work. For example, if you pay a $5,000 retainer and the firm charges $200 per hour, they will deduct $200 for each hour worked until your retainer is exhausted. If your case becomes more complex than originally anticipated, they may ask for additional funds.
Many people are not prepared to pay a large legal bill in advance. Consequently, firms usually accept credit cards for retainer payments.
In civil cases where the attorney expects the plaintiff to receive a settlement or to win a court award, they may take the case on a contingency basis. This means that they collect their fees as a percentage of the gross proceeds from the case. Contingency fees are governed by the Florida Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct.
However, the Bar only states that the fees should be reasonable based on a number of criteria. There are no specific percentages described in the rules. Most firms charge somewhere between 30% to 40%, but it’s important to have this information before committing to a legal firm. As a personal injury law firm, Long, Jean, and Wechsler, P.A. operates on a contingency basis, which means that our clients never have to pay out of pocket for our professional services. We will always disclose our fee schedule prior to entering an attorney-client relationship.
Free Legal Services
Criminal defendants have a constitutional right to representation. Consequently, the state must assign an attorney to them if they ask. For other types of cases, the Florida Bar will sometimes connect individuals with lawyers who provide pro bono (free) legal work. This is not at all necessary for personal injury cases, but if you require a different type of lawyer and you are unable to pay, you may qualify for these free resources.
Vetting Attorneys in Your Area
Determining the best representation available in your area can be difficult. Many firms will claim to be “the best,”, particularly in the ultra-competitive personal injury practice area. Here are some criteria that can help you find the right legal firm for you.
Check the State Bar
You can find a great deal about an attorney by searching their name in the Florida Bar attorney directory. Among the many pieces of information, you’ll find their years of experience, whether or not they are a member of the Bar in good standing, their practice areas, and their disciplinary history.
Review Lawyer Ranking Site
These sites work like a regular search engine, making your search for a good lawyer easier. Put in the name of the attorney or legal firm and their location, and the ranking site will show you reviews that they’ve received. Read through the reviews and look for similarities between the types of cases they’ve handled and your case for a sense of expertise. For example, if you were injured in a slip and fall accident at a restaurant, there may be reviews from clients who have suffered similar injuries.
Review the Law Firm Website
Successful attorneys and good lawyers are proud of their records. There is usually a case results page on every legal firm’s website. Personal injury attorneys will list the settlements and awards that they’ve won; criminal defense attorneys will show you the adjudications and plea bargains that they were able to garner for their clients, etc.
What You Should Ask During Your Initial Consultation
This is a fantastic opportunity to vet lawyers you’re considering. Here are some of the questions you may want to ask during the interview:
- Have you handled my type of case in the past? (Be as specific as possible.)
- How many years of experience do you have?
- Do you work on a contingency or retainer basis?
- What is your rate of payment or contingency fee schedule?
- What is your response time for calls? (A 24-hour turnaround time should be the maximum)
- What will my other costs be in addition to your fees?
- Do you do litigation?
Write down your questions in advance to ensure that you don’t forget anything important.
Not all law firms offer free initial consultations. After all, their attorneys’ time is valuable. Or if they do offer a free consultation, they’ll deduct the hour from your retainer if you commit to the firm. Always inquire about this when your scheduling your appointments. At Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A., our personal injury consultations are always free. We recognize the fact that the financial resources of our potential clients are often limited. All of our fees are contingent upon winning your case, and you’re under no obligation to hire us.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hiring an Attorney
These are some of the most frequently asked questions about searching for the right attorney. If you’ve been injured in an accident, call Long, Jean & Wechsler, P.A. to discuss your case.
Why Do Some Firms Work on a Contingency Basis and Others Don’t?
Certain types of cases are expected to result in the clients receiving damages. In cases like these, attorneys can be reasonably sure to collect in the end. Other types of cases don’t involve damages, so the law firm wants to ensure they receive payment upfront. For example, a criminal defense attorney runs the risk that their client will be sent to jail and unable to pay them back, so they charge a retainer in advance.
What if I Don’t Feel the Lawyer I’m Talking to is a Good Match for My Case?
Until you hire a law firm, you are not under any obligation to stick with them. In fact, for many types of cases, you should talk to two or three firms before committing to find the right lawyer for you.
What Would Make LJW a Good Fit for My Case?
Our attorneys have an excellent track record and decades of combined experience in our directory. All members of our attorney team are members in good standing with the Florida Bar, and we have an excellent track record. Because we charge on a contingency basis, clients never pay out of pocket for their legal problems.
Contact a pompano beach lawyer with a reputation for results. Call LJW today!