Follow these steps to find the right lawyer for your case
Personal injury lawsuits are personal. Plaintiffs have to discuss their financial circumstances and private medical histories with near-strangers. What's more, personal injury lawsuits can last for months or even years.
Due to the nature of personal injury lawsuits, it's important to find the right attorney to handle your case—someone who is experienced and competent, but also someone whose personality is the right fit for you.
Finding a lawyer—where to begin
It might feel as though your life is spiraling out of control quickly after an accident. You may be unable to work, medical bills may be piling up, and you may start receiving telephone calls from insurance companies and even attorneys.
The sooner you can start the process of looking for a lawyer, the closer you are to regaining control of your life.
But how do you begin your search?
Word of mouth
One of the best ways to find an attorney is by getting personal recommendations from trusted family members, friends, or colleagues.
If you're active in a relevant social organization, you might also check with your fellow members. For example, if you're involved in a bicycle accident and happen to be a member of the Hilton Head Cycling Club, there's a decent chance one of the other members has experience with a bike accident attorney.
Online legal directories
There was a time when lawyers were listed in the yellow pages. For the most part, those days are long gone. Today, online legal directories (the digital equivalent of yellow pages) are the easiest way to find licensed attorneys in South Carolina. You can find one free online directory right here on Enjuris!
The Enjuris lawyer directory allows you to search for licensed attorneys throughout South Carolina. Each attorney's profile page includes useful information, such as contact information, practice areas, attorney bios, and whether the attorney offers free initial consultation. What's more, if the lawyer has contributed articles to Enjuris or has been interviewed by Enjuris, those articles and interviews will show up on the attorney's profile page so that you can better get to know the attorney.
Another option is the South Carolina State Bar Attorney Directory. The South Carolina State Bar Attorney Directory lists all licensed attorneys in South Carolina and allows you to search for an attorney by name, practice area, and location.
Finding free or reduced-cost legal help
Here at Enjuris, we believe that every person facing a legal issue should have access to timely and affordable legal help. Fortunately for low-income South Carolina residents, there a number of options for free or reduced-cost legal help:
- South Carolina State Bar Lawyer Referral Service. The South Carolina State Bar Lawyer Referral Service is a public program that will put qualifying individuals in touch with free or reduced-cost attorneys.
- South Carolina State Bar Free Legal Answers. The South Carolina State Bar (with help from the American Bar Association) allows low-income individuals to submit questions to volunteer attorneys.
- Enjuris Free Legal Answers. Enjuris allows you to submit legal questions (anonymously and confidentially) to licensed attorneys who will do their best to answer your question at no cost. What's more, there are no income requirements.
- Free Legal Clinics. There are a number of free legal clinics around South Carolina that address particular issues (such as landlord-tenant issues, immigration, or elder law).
Narrowing your search
Finding an attorney isn't always good enough. You want to make sure that you find the right attorney. Once you have a few options, ask yourself the following questions to help whittle down your list:
- Is the attorney you're considering licensed? The South Carolina State Bar directory allows you to search for a lawyer by name. Once you do so, the directory will tell you whether the attorney is an “active member” (i.e., licensed to practice in South Carolina). You don't want to hire an attorney who's not an active member.
- Has the attorney you're considering been disciplined? The South Carolina State Bar directory will tell you whether the attorney is in “good standing” or whether the attorney has been “suspended” or “disbarred.” You don't want to hire a lawyer who is currently suspended or disbarred. What's more, you want to think long and hard before hiring a lawyer who has been suspended or disbarred in the past.
- What are the attorney's main practice areas? An attorney's bio (if you're looking in an online legal directory) will list the attorney's practice areas. Generally speaking, you want to hire an attorney who has experience with your issue. In other words, if the attorney lists “contracts” as their main practice area, you don't want to hire them to represent you in your slip-and-fall accident.
Once you've whittled your list down to 2 or 3 attorneys, it's time to schedule initial consultations. Initial consultations are generally free and allow you to meet with the attorney to make sure they're a good fit before you actually hire them.
To make the most out of your initial consultation, it's a good idea to come prepared to ask the lawyer some questions to get a better sense of whether the attorney is right for you. In this sense, initial consultations are similar to job interviews.
Preparing for your first meeting
Once you decide on a specific attorney, the attorney will probably want to meet with you right away. The more prepared you are for these meetings, the more efficient (and cost-effective) your attorney can be.
With that in mind, there are some things you should bring with you to your first meeting and some questions that you should be prepared to answer.