Before your imagination runs wild,
remember: this is just another consumer transaction. Although
sometimes couched in mystery, hiring a lawyer is really no different
from finding a hairdresser-without-scalper syndrome or an auto
mechanic who knows a distributor from a drive shaft.
Knowing what you're looking for is crucial. But first you need to figure out what your problem is. Some night when the kids are immersed in multiplication tables and there's nothing good on cable, sit down with a yellow pad and ask: what kind of situation do I have? Is it fairly straightforward, like incorporating your ice cream parlor, or more complex, like becoming the legal guardian for your 90-year-old great-aunt?
Write the problem out in your own words. Describe how it arose, what stage it's in now, and what outcome you'd like. This brainstorming will help in the hunt for Clarence (Clarencia?) Darrow.
Naturally, every problem isn't subject to leisurely analysis (example: your 17-year-old son calls from the police station, where he's being booked for driving while intoxicated.) But most allow at least some time to plan a strategy.
Once you've done that, don't delay. Take action. Attorney Tom Sobecki, who practices employment, discrimination and civil right law, in Toledo, cautions that, "Often the client sees the attorney too late."
" If a prospective client seeks legal advice as soon as they perceive there's a problem, in the long run it will often save lots of aggravation and expense," Sobecki says.
Once you have a handle on your type of legal problem and decide a lawyer is the solution, it's time to find one. Where do you look? How do you find one who's both competent and easy to work with?