Making sure that you have selected the proper attorney to handle your matter is critical not only to the success of the outcome of your legal matter but in insuring that you are not being overcharged for the lawyer’s services. Unfortunately, many lawyers, especially in today's economy, take cases involving legal matters that they are not completely well versed in. Some of the lawyers who take cases that they’re not fully prepared to handle do so because they honestly believe that they are equipped to handle the matter while others may take the case due to economic factors. Unfortunately, the client who selects an attorney who does not frequently practice within that specific legal area may end up paying a significant amount more money in attorney’s fees than if they had selected an attorney who was confident in the practice area legal subject.
To illustrate, we have often had clients come into our office for help getting them out of a legal "jam" that was created by another attorney. In fact, we recently were retained by a business owner who provided audio and visual installations to consumers. He was being sued for breach of contract by one of his clients. When we reviewed his contract we noted glaring ambiguities and missing protections. He advised that he had hired a lawyer who had been a family friend for a long time to do his contracts. He further explained that the lawyer’s primary area of business is real estate and family law matters. Fortunately for the business owner we were able to resolve the matter favorably without litigation. However, had things not played out the way did, the business owner could have spent tens of thousands of dollars defending the case in court. We explained to our client that he should fully understand the limitations of any attorney that he hires prior to retaining them.
In another example, a New York City lawyer agreed to take a case in an area of law where he was not completely comfortable in. He ultimately charged his clients $22,000.00 and billed them at a rate of $450.00 per hour. Unfortunately, the lawyer was less than familiar with the subject matter and when his clients contested the bill the court ordered him to return all but $750.00 of the $22,000.00 he collected in fees. Apparently, the attorney had spent the bulk of his time billing his clients for learning some legal basics concerning the subject matter.
The bottom line is that you need to be comfortable with the lawyer that you select but also need to make sure that the lawyer has experience in the practice area that you are hiring him to perform work in. Far too often we hear stories from clients who have hired family friends or lawyers that they have known for a long time to do work on matters that are not specific to their practice area. It creates problems for the client and for the lawyer.
If you would like more information about this topic or if you wish to discuss a legal matter with us, please do not hesitate to contact me at 973-949-3770 or via email at email@example.com. We answer legal questions on a daily basis and would be happy to discuss your matter with you.