San Diego Lawyers and Attorneys

More than three million people live in San Diego County, so finding an attorney is not a problem.  However, finding the right attorney for your legal issue is an entirely different matter.

There are hundreds of legal issues you can possibly face as an individual, small business owner, corporate executive, or pretty much anyone else in San Diego.  

Sooner or later, it seems, everyone can use some expert legal advice.  Sometimes those issues are regarding civil actions, and at other times, you may face criminal complaints.

The attorney you choose can significantly impact not only your issue's outcome but how much you’ll spend on legal fees, time, and other related costs.  The right attorney will also help you deal with the anxieties and questions that are normal when you’re facing important legal matters you don’t fully understand.

Let’s walk you through the critical steps in finding the best attorney for your situation.

Your due diligence in finding the right lawyer starts with narrowing your search to an expert who specializes in the type of legal help you need.  That sounds obvious until you realize just how many choices you have.  Not only do attorneys work in general areas of the law, but many are also specialists within those fields.

For example, business law practitioners may limit themselves specifically to…

  • Antitrust issues
  • Copyrights, trademarks, and patents
  • Contracts and deal structures
  • Labor and employment issues 
  • LLCs and partnerships
  • Merger and acquisitions
  • Product liability
  • Land use
  • Malpractice lawsuits
  • Insurance
  • Finance
  • Venture capital

…and so on.

Often, big firms will have large staffs and combine areas of expertise to tackle complex issues.  But that isn’t always the best route.

After identifying your legal issue, you need to know where to look.  For the most part, skip ads or random online searches for nearby lawyers.  Most of the time, there’s simply not enough information to give you the critical information you need.  Instead, try these strategies.

Personal referrals.  If somebody in your network has faced legal issues similar to what you’re facing, and they’ve had a good outcome, that’s an indicator you might have the same quality experience.  For example, if you need small business law representation, speak to your insurance agent, real estate broker, Chamber of Commerce members, or accountant.  

Targeted online attorney referral listings.  Many sites go deeper than general searches, offering you a way to connect with attorneys based on your locale and the type of legal issue.  Nolo.com or Avvo.com are good places to start.  Legalmatch.com is another.  

One of the best might be the California State Bar Association which operates a Certified Lawyer Referral Service that lists licensees of the State Bar in good standing and who carry professional liability insurance. 

You may want to seek out a lawyer referral service that participates in the American Bar Association-sponsored certification program.  These services use a logo to identify lawyer referral programs that comply with certain quality standards developed by the ABA.

If you need legal counsel, but cannot afford an attorney, try contacting your nearest legal aid office, which may be able to provide pro bono legal help.

Narrow your search to a small group of attorneys you think are best qualified to represent you.  Next, you’ll need to drill down to other vital matters based on your situation.  

Here’s what you should focus on and some questions you should ask.

Availability.  Is your attorney going to be available most of the time to take your call?  Are you going to be handed off to junior staff or legal assistants most of the time?  Any great attorney isn’t available 100% of the time but should be reasonable when trying to be attentive to your needs.   

Fees.  What are the attorney’s hourly rates?  How often are they billed?  What kind of retainer may be required to start your case?  Can you save money if they use other staff who bill at a lesser rate?  Understand that while costs are an issue, the cheapest attorney isn’t always the best attorney.  You want to find one that fits your budget and does not break your bank.

Compatibility.  Some attorneys are smooth talkers and great communicators.  Others are gruff and short but may get the job done efficiently.  This is a “vibe” area that you need to pay attention to as part of the overall mix.  Pay particular attention to the personal chemistry between you and your potential lawyer.

Keep in mind that you will be sharing confidential information, sometimes on legal issues that can stretch out for months or years.  Do you feel good about the possibility of working with this attorney for an extended period?

Ethics.  Does the attorney adhere to the highest ethics?  That includes being honest with you even when you don’t want to hear the truth.  An attorney removes the emotion from highly charged emotional situations and reduces things to what a court considers important and what the law says.  An attorney can still display empathy, but ultimately, they must adhere to high ethical standards and put your best interests first.

Experience. You must demand that your attorney has several years of experience dealing with the exact type of legal issue facing you.  If not, plenty of others are qualified and experienced who will do a great job representing you. Your issue is too important to let a highly talented but recent law school grad handle your case.

Familiarity with Local Courts. Attorneys who have spent years in certain courts or dealing with specific judges can use that familiarity to your advantage. This “home court” advantage gives you an added bump when it comes to getting the best possible outcome for your case.

Free Case Evaluation.  Skip any attorney who wants you to pay a fee for a case evaluation. The attorney you hire should offer to meet with you for free for 15 minutes to an hour to discuss the elements of your case.  

When it comes down to it, nobody really wants to deal with legal issues, which are often expensive, time-consuming, frustrating, and filled with unknowns and anxiety.

However, if you’ve got no choice, the best outcome you can hope for is to win whatever issue you’re facing.  And the best way to do that is by working with the most skilled and appropriate lawyer for your legal needs.

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