Nine Things To Look For In An Excellent Lawyer
We, at Santillán Law Firm, P.C., believe in the following “things” in our law practice and attempt to adhere to a code of conduct and ethics required of professionals in order to offer our clients competent representation & exceptional service:
Stays Calm. Your attorney has to be able to stay calm and patient. Your lawyer should be able to deal with you in a calm, controlled manner. He should show patience with you and with the other side. Panicking rarely, if ever, solves a problem. Conversely, a good attorney will protect his law office from irrational clients. Maintaining mutual respect between the attorney and client increases the likelihood that all issues are resolved in an orderly and efficient manner.
Is Willing to Say No. Even to You. A good attorney is candid about your chances in obtaining an outcome on a particular issue. That attorney should also tell you if you are doing something wrong, or if you are wasting your time. Simply because a client wants something does not mean that it is the best thing for a client, or that it is the right thing to do.
While some clients get upset when they find out that their attorney will not do everything that they are told, this is just the type of attorney that you should be seeking. Otherwise, your attorney will quickly get a reputation of asking for frivolous things or taking positions on issues that he knows the court will not adopt. That makes it tougher for that attorney to be successful on truly close issues. Also, you are paying good money for that attorney, and you deserve the best advice, not just what you want to hear.
Uses Technology. Property rights, property valuations and ownership, and many other matters relating to estate administration, social security, bankruptcy, real estate law, and taxes rely on research systems and software programs to make efficient, intelligent decisions. If your attorney is not up to date on these issues, and is still using pencil and paper to formulate a game plan, he is behind the times. He should also be able to communicate with you by email, and discuss the opportunities and advantages of electronic communication. If your attorney has not kept up to date on technical issues, it is unlikely that he has kept up to date on legal issues either.
Knows the Playing Field. Your attorney will not be able to predict the future. He will not always know how a particular issue will be decided. He should have enough experience with the judge, with the law, and with the other lawyers to intelligently analyze the probabilities of success or resolution of your case.
Keeps His Eyes on Important Issues. An attorney must be willing to advise her client of what constitutes important issue versus unimportant issues in the greater scheme of things. The attorney should advise the client of where to save money for more important issues. An attorney who gets distracted in court by pursuing arguments which have no value will not be as effective in front of most trial judges in dealing with the more important issue of the case.
Is Open to Questions. Your attorney should answer your questions. If he cannot, he should tell you why not. If you do not think that you are getting a fair answer to your question, then write him a letter or send an email. Frequently attorneys think that they have answered questions, but the client is still confused. Do yourself a favor and the attorney a favor and be sure to ask again. If you cannot receive an answer after that, then that attorney may not be for you. (Caveat: remember, your attorney cannot predict the future. If he could, he would have won the Power-ball/Lottery and be enjoying a nice wine or cold beer at 4:30 p.m. on a sunny Friday afternoon).
Makes a Good Presentation to You. Remember, as a potential client, you are a potential boss. If an attorney does not behave, dress, and talk in a manner that provides good presentation to you, what makes you think he will do any better to a judge?
Is Trustworthy. In the popular media, sometimes people think the best lawyer is the one who is the sneakiest, or plays the closest to the edge of ethical, moral, or legal behavior. Resist the temptation to hire an attorney who acts like that. Judges will not let attorneys get away with that behavior for very long; opposing counsel will be much more difficult to work with (meaning you will be spending a lot more money); and ultimately with nothing beneficial will be gained.
Solves Problems. If the attorney you are interviewing for hire simply talks in terms of winning and losing, get up and leave. What you want is an attorney who works to identify the problems and solve the problems. Solutions to these problems may come by counseling, a word of wise advice to you, patience, mediation, or possible trial in front of a judge. No options should be foreclosed. An attorney who does not work to solve problems before going to court will not be a good attorney.