How to Choose an Attorney
Hiring an attorney is a step many people will never need to take. Those need legal representation are confronted with a long list of attorneys seeking clients. But remember: Just because you need an attorney does not mean you should place your legal future in the hands of the first person you encounter who has passed the bar.
Your attorney is your voice throughout the legal process. He or she is tasked with defending your rights and pursuing nothing but the most favorable outcome for you. These are serious responsibilities. You should not take them lightly, and your attorney shouldn’t, either.
You need an attorney you can trust to speak for you. Here are a few things to consider as you weigh your options:
Is the attorney experienced?
How long has he or she been practicing law? An older attorney is not necessarily a better attorney than a younger one, but you want an attorney who comes to you with some experience—not an attorney who comes to you seeking it.
Does the attorney have the right experience?
Look through his or her biography and ask questions. There are many areas of law, each different from the next, and attorneys who focus on each. An excellent criminal defense attorney is likely not be the best choice to represent you in a products liability case. You want an attorney who has successfully represented clients in the same situation as you are right now.
Does the attorney take the time to answer your questions?
Will you be a valued client or one more case in the filing cabinet? Can you get the attorney on the phone, or does he or she appear to be behind an impenetrable wall of office staff? If you want to feel comfortable as your case proceeds, you will need an attorney who is happy to talk with you.
Does the attorney have enough or too many resources for my case?
Look at whether your lawyer will have enough support staff and other lawyers, if necessary, to handle your case. Some solo practitioners may not have enough support to take on complicated and costly litigation matters. On the other hand, many medium-sized and large firms have lots of lawyers who need to bill time to client files to get paid. You will need a lawyer who can muster the right resources for your case, but one who is not burdened by excessive overhead which is unnecessarily added to your bill.
Will the attorney I hire be the person that handles my case?
In most firms, one of two things happens when a lawyer signs up a case: 1) the lawyer assigns the case to a young associate to handle, or 2) the lawyer refers the case to another lawyer and keeps part of the fee. When you hire an attorney, you need to know who is going to handle your case. You need to know who is the captain of your team.
Do you trust the attorney?
Only you can answer this one.
The selection of an attorney is subjective. The right choice for one person may be an attorney another person would never consider. You want an attorney with the proper experience, but it goes deeper.
Here are some things Scott Hooper does not do:
1. Take on lots of cases simultaneously to pad his paycheck.
Having trouble getting in touch with your attorney? That could be because he’s too busy managing a lengthy list of clients to give each case the attention it may need for success.
Scott only takes cases he believes in. And he is grateful his past successes allow him to do this. On the surface, cases as diverse as motorcycle wrecks and oil spills appear to have nothing in common. The complexity is their common core. This complexity calls for the diligence Scott delivers for his clients.
If Scott didn’t deliberately limit his caseload, he wouldn’t be able to give you and your case the time you deserve. He’d also miss out on seeing his two young kids grow up.
2. Make his clients jump through hoops to get him on the phone.
When you call his office, Scott answers. He is your attorney. He is working for you. Scott also fully utilizes email, text messages, Skype and face-to-face meetings to keep his clients informed.
3. Claim to be something he is not.
Scott doesn’t get cases by pretending to be everything a prospective client is looking for. All he claims to be is a dedicated and diligent attorney, and his clients would tell you that has worked out rather well for them.
4. Show up unprepared.
Cases are won outside the courtroom through researching every applicable law, anticipating every roadblock and leaving no question unanswered. Scott knows this. There is no excuse when an attorney fails to do his or her homework.
This steadfast work ethic is why Scott is a lifetime fellow at the Texas Bar Association – a distinction offered to just the top 0.33% of the nearly 90,000 attorneys in Texas.
5. Fail to properly staff a case.
Scott applies a Team Approach to all of his cases. He puts together the right team, adding additional lawyers and law firms as needed for each client’s problem. At the same time, the Scott Hooper Law Firm is not burdened with excessive overhead of idle associates, support staff and expenses that add to the client’s costs.
Also, Scott doesn’t hand cases off to younger lawyers. Scott handles the cases he takes on. If additional lawyers are needed to assist in the client’s case, Scott remains the captain of the team. If you hire Scott, you get Scott, not an associate.
Still Not Sure?
Motorcycle accidents, toxic chemical exposure, commercial litigation.
The cases Scott handles sound like a random bunch. But they have this in common: a legal complexity that demands a diligent, nuanced attorney.
If you’re looking for professionalism without pretense, call Scott Hooper today at (713) 529-5055 or contact him online. He will ask you about your case—but make sure you ask him questions, too.
You have a choice in this, and Scott knows that. Don’t make the choice lightly.