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Why should I hire a lawyer?
Recently, I was waiting on my client’s case to be called and watching the preceding case which I feel provides a valuable example. A very smart looking gentleman in a suit was suing his neighbor (farmer in overalls) for damages he claimed to his property. This plaintiff represented himself (pro se) against a defendant who was represented by counsel. The plaintiff had obviously spent much time preparing with charts, graphs and diagrams. Quite frankly, I would not be surprised if he had an advanced degree (not in law). However, none of that mattered because he did not have the first inkling of knowledge regarding trial procedure or the rules of evidence. His exhibits were continuously excluded from evidence because he did not follow the rules. In addition, he pounded on the table and said “your honor, I rest my case!” I must say, it was quite dramatic. I immediately knew that this plaintiff was going to lose. Honestly, he probably did sustain damage to his property. However, he simply failed to follow the rules and did not introduce proper evidence. He lost his case immediately without the defendant even having to introduce one piece of evidence.
Obviously, every case presents different facts. Under the Virginia Rules, no attorney can guarantee any outcome for you in litigation. However, if you are considering hiring an attorney, you should also consider a cost-benefit analysis of possible recovery/result versus possible attorney’s fees.
How do I find the right lawyer?
The answer to this question is largely dependent upon what type of assistance you need. From my perspective, there are two types of clients: a) those who have an immediate/urgent need (i.e. lawsuit) and b) those who are looking to develop a long term relationship with a lawyer for themselves or their business.
If you are in need of a lawyer because of an immediate need, the lawyer you ultimately hire must be someone who is aggressive and willing to take immediate action. There are simply some lawyers who have no interest in litigation and consider themselves only drafting or planning. Personally, I feel comfortable doing both. If you have an immediate need, you should get a sense that the attorney you hire understands your sense of urgency.
In addition, you should choose an attorney who has a decent grasp of the area of law of your case. Obviously, sometimes attorneys must do a little bit of background research into the law and the facts to determine how you should proceed. In fact, the Virginia State Bar recognizes this fact and says that “Competent representation requires legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.” Rule 1.1 Remember, the rules of evidence govern every case the same.
For those clients who want to develop a working relationship with an attorney, it is important to choose an attorney whom you feel takes the time to get to know you. I always strive to know a client’s personal or business situation.
Anytime you hire an attorney, you should ultimately hire the person you feel most comfortable working with. I will take that one step further and say that I must also feel comfortable with you. Remember, if at any time you do not feel comfortable with a particular attorney, immediately discuss your concerns with the attorney. If you feel your concerns are not appropriately addressed, you are always free to start looking for new legal counsel.
Can I hire a lawyer to just handle one particular aspect of my case?
It depends on the task and what stage of the case you have entered. If no lawsuit is filed, I may very well be able to review correspondence or draft a letter on your behalf. If you are in litigation, an attorney will likely not be able to just assist with various aspects. Once an attorney has entered their appearance in a case (attorney of record), they must petition the Court to withdraw. This is another reason that so many attorneys ask for money at the beginning of the representation. If you have questions about which parts of a case I may be able to assist with, call my office to set up an appointment.
How should I prepare for my first meeting with your law office?
The more that you are prepared for our meeting, the more you are likely to get out of that first meeting. If I could read minds, you would likely see me making celebrity appearances on daytime television. You should come up with a general outline of the specific facts in your case. I always tell people to make a bulleted list of items they want to cover in our meeting.
One question that I always ask potential clients is “what is your desired outcome?” To me, this is the most important question and is often the most telling as to how/whether we should proceed. If you had your way, what would the best outcome be? What is the absolute minimum result that you could accept? These questions provide a framework for the representation.
Do all lawyers use the same fee agreements?
The type of fee agreement that I use largely depends on the type of representation. The fee agreement could be for one specific instance/task or it could be more of a rolling agreement. The fee agreement that my office uses was largely developed by myself. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask. From my point of view, a good fee agreement avoids conflicts down the road since it clearly defines what is expected from both parties.
How many attorneys work in your office?
I am a solo attorney and fiercely proud of that label. Bigger does not always mean better. Some of my good attorney friends have left big law firms because they were not able to develop lasting deep relationships with their clients. Quite frankly, I have always envisioned myself as working in a small personalized law office. This is exactly where I want to be.
Being a solo, I take great pride in calling my clients back quickly. If I do not know the answer off the top of my head, I give you a reasonable time within which to expect an answer. If I feel that your case requires additional attorneys, I do have some great attorneys that I have a working relationship with. This does not happen too often and I would certainly discuss this with you in advance. In addition, I work with some very talented paralegals who are a great asset.
Why should I hire Law Office of Ryan C. Young, PLLC?
Not only do I want to vigorously defend you today, I want to provide you with the tools and information for making sound decisions in the future. I truly want those clients who I can develop a working relationship with. I want our working relationship to be a success for us both. My overall goal is to ensure that you are not constantly running around “putting out fires” and panicking at each new urgent dilemma that arises. If I see a red flag in another unrelated area, I am going to raise that issue with you and hopefully we can address other concerns as well.
One thing that I am consistently complimented on by my best clients is my candor regarding the possibility of success in your case. There are certainly attorneys who will push their clients into needless/unwise litigation just to make a buck; I am not one of them.
How soon can I expect a call back when I contact your office?
I strive to contact my clients back as quickly as possible. If you leave a message with my office, someone will usually contact you back that day. If you have a preferred method of response, please share that with me. I spend a lot of time in front of my computer and often respond to emails very quickly.
Are there additional/hidden costs I should be aware of?
Let me first say that I understand that you have not given me a blank check to spend money frivolously on your behalf. Everyday expenses which I might incur while working on your case may include: travel expense, postage, filing fees, photocopies, courier services, etc. For larger expenses, such as hiring an accountant or expert, I will certainly get your approval in advance. If you have specific concerns, please address them with me directly.
Will I have to deposit any money to get started with your firm?
In nearly every instance, I require that clients put down a deposit with my firm. Like the majority of attorneys, I do not feel comfortable extending you large amounts of credit. Please keep in mind that my office does accept all major credit cards. Also, if there is any money remaining at the close of representation, it will be returned to you in the form of a check with a closing invoice. All funds you deposit with my firm will be held in a client escrow account which is separate from my operating bank account.
If you have questions which are unanswered, please give me a call and I would be happy to talk to you. Remember, each case is unique and blanket answers do not always work. Serving your needs is a privilege which I do not take lightly. I look forward to the prospect of serving you.