Ask the Probate Judge—Finding an Attorney
Q: You have mentioned
you will discuss how to find a good attorney. Well?
Many people ask how to find an honest, competent attorney. Some people want the least expensive attorney. Others want an attorney they get along with. Still others want one who will return phone calls and do work promptly. Finding an attorney who meets all of your criteria may be challenging.
Asking trusted and satisfied friends, colleagues, and financial planners for recommendations of attorneys is probably the best way to find a good attorney. But here are some additional suggestions.
To choose an attorney who suits your needs, interview several and pick one with whom you think you can work. Not all attorneys know all kinds of law, so state what type of legal matter you have. If the attorney practices that kind of law, you might ask some of the following questions:
You can ask these questions
over the telephone or during the first meeting with the attorney. Do not feel
pressured to hire an attorney with whom you do not feel comfortable. Once you
choose an attorney, a written fee agreement will protect you and your attorney.
The agreement should set out the scope of the work, the fees to be charged,
other costs and expenses, provisions for terminating the contract, a time estimate,
and the attorney's billing procedure.
If an attorney has been publicly disciplined, it will be a matter of public record. To check the disciplinary record of any New Mexico attorney, contact the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court, P.O. Box 1809, Albuquerque, NM 87103-1809, 505-842-5781. If you feel your attorney has done something wrong or unethical, you can file a complaint with the Disciplinary Board or with the Consumer/Attorney Assistance Program, 797-6068.
My next column will describe several lawyer consultation, referral, and assistance programs.
8 2002, Merri Rudd &
Albuquerque Journal, All Rights Reserved