So you've read my blog post on how to find a good Bellingham personal injury lawyer Part 1, and you've narrowed your list of favorites down to about three good lawyers. Now it's time to make some phone calls and set up some appointments. Here are some factors to consider as you delve into each individual lawyer's attributes.
There's a wide variety of experience levels in Bellingham's lawyer list. Some have decades of experience, others a few years. Don't automatically assume a lawyer with many years of experience would be your best choice. Sometimes more seasoned attorneys will have a heavy caseload and will not be able to give much personal time and attention to your case. A new lawyer often has a lot of enthusiasm to give to their clients. Here at Bill Coats Law, we have Bill with decades of experience, and Tiffany who recently graduated with honors from law school. We think this is the best of both worlds, and we all work together with our paralegal, Nichole, throughout the lifetimes of all our firm's cases.
Another plus for an experienced lawyer is that they should know many claims adjusters throughout the years of working with various insurance companies. To be in good standing, often he will have good professional relationships with these individuals. He should also have a good reputation for not settling cases if the offer isn't fair for his client, and be willing to take the insurance companies to court if they can't come up with a fair offer.
A newer lawyer will likely be looking for cases, and eager to accept new clients. She'll want to work hard for them and build a good reputation. Law school is highly competitive, and attracts people who like competing to be the best. There's a good chance newer attorneys will fight very hard for their clients to show the insurance adjusters and representatives that they won't back down.
As I mentioned previously, law school is highly competitive. Good schools tend to attract driven people, and the qualities that help these students succeed extend well towards how they'll work professionally. However, to be a good lawyer, one needs top negotiation skills, and those aren't necessarily reflected in grades. Don't rule out selecting a lawyer with a good academic pedigree, but don't dismiss it either.
Avoid choosing an attorney based on their address. Bellingham, the City of Subdued Excitement, has some newer zip codes as well as some that have been around from the start. The only thing an office shows you is the attorney's sense of style. We at Bill Coats Law prioritized accessibility, as we are located in downtown Bellingham in the Crown Plaza building, and want our clients to feel comfortable and taken care of.
Now it's getting personal. You've made your list, and now have set up some first consultation visits. Often these are free, and a good chance to talk to the lawyer you'd work with about your particular case. Certainly, at Bill Coats Law, we offer this first consultation for free, and operate on a no-fee guarantee, which means that we don't bill our clients until their case settles. We believe this helps accident victims focus on what they need to during this post-accident recovery period, and don't want to add more bills to the pile of medical bills, which often come in while victims are unable to work.
Make sure to bring all of your documentation with you on your first visit. This gives you a chance to get familiar with how the attorney will handle your case's details, and gives the attorney a clearer picture of what kind of case you have.
Remember, your relationship with the attorney you choose as well as his staff will last a long time, perhaps years. Your decision should be based on your expectations of what you deserve and your sense of who is the best person to get that for you. This relationship begins with your first call and consultation. In my next post, I'll list some questions that can be helpful to ask during this first consultation. Asking this list of questions to the top three attorneys you've chosen to consider will help you compare apples to apples and find the best one to work on your case.