Finding a Consumer Attorney
With the increased use of consumer review sites, an individual can find a good lawyer in 10 minutes. They can look at reviews that the attorney has on sites such as Yelp, AVVO, Google-reviews, and even the attorney’s own website. Review sites are easy to access and almost always free of charge. It is highly recommended that an individual takes the time to read the reviews available when searching for an attorney.
Most law firms have a website that describes the attorney’s experience and what the attorney’s reason is for believing that she or he is the best for the job. An individual should feel confident in going to a consumer lawyer, or any lawyer for that matter, and asking the tough questions as if it was a job interview. That’s because it really is somewhat like a job interview for a job that the lawyer is trying to obtain.
The consumer should have no problem asking how many years the lawyer has been practicing, how many cases they have filed, how many times they have sued a defendant, and whether they have ever gone to trial. Most individuals think that all lawyers go to trial, but that is not the case. Approximately 90% of lawyers have never gone to trial, and many who have gone to trial have not gone enough times to develop and sharpen quality trial skills. It is vital for a potential client to know such information from his potential attorney.
Imagine looking for a brain surgeon, you would want to know if that surgeon has done other brain surgeries before going to them. The same applies for a lawyer. Make sure that when you speak to someone at the law firm, you talk to a lawyer, not a paralegal, law clerk or an assistant. Make sure that you can contact the lawyer after your meeting with additional questions, whether through email, cell phone calls or text messages. These are the things that our firm gives to our clients, which builds trust and confidence.
In some ways, engaging in potential or actual litigation is like going into a relationship with that law firm or that lawyer. You need to have a sense of connection with that individual. You need to feel they care about you, believe they understand you, feel comfortable and confident standing next to that individual in front of a courtroom full of jurors or a judge, and you must feel like they can advocate for you. You want them to be able to tell your story even when the other side is trying to derail it. The only way to do that is to speak to the lawyer on the phone or see them in person so that you can get a sense from them. Are they compassionate about you? Do they care about you? Are they willing to fight for you? If you get that sense from a lawyer, then you are in good hands. That’s something an individual can use in evaluating any lawyer for any purpose, not just a consumer law lawyer.
Role of a Consumer Law Attorney
One role of a consumer law attorney is to counsel people and inform them of their rights. Most individuals don’t know that debt collection harassment laws can protect them or that inaccurate credit reporting laws allow them to recover monetary damages. Another role of a consumer law attorney is to help the client pursue violations of these laws. Some of these laws require very specific steps to be taken before rights are triggered to protect and ultimately compensate the consumer.
A consumer attorney should take the proper steps to ensure that the client understands the law and knows what steps need to be taken for his rights to be protected. If necessary, the attorney’s role is to represent the client to escalate the situation into formal litigation whereby the client can use the power of the courts to obtain the appropriate amount of monetary damages for the consumer. Sometimes that means facilitating a settlement, and sometimes that means preparing a case to be presented to a jury at trial.
Skills to Look for in an Attorney
Obviously, an attorney who seeks to represent consumers should be familiar with the law. Not all attorneys are educated in all areas of the law. Therefore, it is generally recommended that a consumer-related case be handled by an attorney who has dedicated his practice to focus on consumer rights.
A consumer attorney will most likely have regular exposure to the technical nuances that sometimes prevent consumers from being able to fully take advantage of the laws that are in place to protect their interests. Unfortunately, the number one goal for a corporate defendant usually is attempting to avoid liability by taking advantage of failures of the consumer in following strict and technical compliance of the various prerequisite steps in hopes of eliminating the consumer’s ability to be fully compensated and fully protected.
A consumer attorney should know of, and be prepared for, technical defense strategies and know how to avoid them. An attorney should inform the consumer about potential pitfalls and lead them to a position where no technical flaws exist, leaving the defense to have no other choice but to address the consumer’s case on its merits and value.
It is significantly helpful if the attorney has previously represented clients at trial. If a lawyer doesn’t regularly go to trial or has not had any real experience in prosecuting cases to trial, then they are ultimately at a serious disadvantage, as they lack the experience to know what to do if the case is not able to be settled before trial. An attorney who lacks the knowledge and experience to go to trial is no different than a gun that lacks bullets—the unloaded gun gives the impression to others that it could cause harm, but without bullets, it lacks the necessary ability to complete the job that it was assigned to do.
The ability to prepare a client’s case and ultimately present the case at trial are things that we bring to the table. We not only know how to prosecute a case to the end, but we look forward to it. We have each completed over 30 trials, which means that we are familiar with what it takes to prepare a case, what constitutes admissible evidence, how to present the evidence at trial, how to argue trial motions and objections in front of the judge, and, most importantly, how to persuasively present our client’s story to a jury.
Until you have repeatedly represented a client before a jury, you will not appreciate the value and power that a jury trial has in resolving a dispute in litigation. After repeated trials, we know that a trial before members of the community is sometimes the most powerful weapon that a consumer has against corporate America. It is the consumer’s peers that can, and most times do, hold corporations responsible for taking advantage of consumers and refusing to take responsibility for the harms they have caused. It is for this reason that an effective consumer attorney must also be a trial attorney; otherwise, they are seriously putting their client at a disadvantage.
Can I Afford an Experienced Attorney?
In the majority of cases, experienced consumer law firms pay for all the costs and fees associated with the lawsuit (including hiring experts, funding depositions, traveling to different states to take depositions and presenting a case to trial) without charging the client anything up front. So, the answer is almost always yes. In such “contingency” fee cases, the attorney is only paid for his time and reimbursed his out of pocket costs if the litigation results in a successful recovery.
Impact of Experience, Reputation and Skill
We look at every lawsuit like a chess match. We evaluate the defense firms, evaluate the defense attorneys, and rank their ability to persuasively present a defense.
We presume that the defendants are doing the exact same thing by evaluating our firm. They are evaluating the way we have prosecuted cases in the past and evaluating our ability to pursue the lawsuit all the way to a jury trial. It’s a huge factor that plays into cases that is not acknowledged but considered when it comes to negotiations. Defense attorneys won’t admit, “I’m settling the case with you because I know you’ll pursue the case to trial.” However, it’s common sense that they are taking such a factor into consideration.
In fact, I used to work for insurance defense firms defending personal injury cases, and he learned that the considerations by the defense industry always involved evaluating the lawyer representing the plaintiff, including their ability to prosecute the case to trial. A good trial lawyer would get a higher value settlement than a lawyer that clearly didn’t have the experience or the ability to pursue the case to trial.
How Do I Know If It’s Necessary to Hire a Consumer Law Attorney for My Case?
You might discover that it’s necessary when you yourself try to send a written dispute asking the credit reporting agencies or the furnishers to correct an error and they refuse to do so or simply ignore you. In such circumstances, you might feel lost and helpless as to what else could be done to protect yourself and assert your rights. Therefore, it is advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney from the very beginning. This is because you want somebody who is navigating the laws and pitfalls in the right way. You want somebody who is going to stand by you if the companies ignore you, and you want somebody who is going to seek monetary damages for you if your requests are ignored or mishandled.
For more information on Finding The Right Consumer Law Attorney, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling our office at (951) 293-4187.