The definition of a good lawyer varies from one individual to another. What counts above all is that the lawyer in question meets your own search criteria in terms of availability, fees and other conditions. These few avenues will help you choose the lawyer who will defend you best, whether you are litigious or plaintiff.
1. Inform yourself through word-of-mouth
This is not a sufficient criterion but it can already give you an overview of what a particular lawyer can offer you. The opinions of your relatives will help you to know certain strengths and shortcomings of the lawyers who represented them. Find out more about the type of case and how the lawyer works. If, for example, he has omitted a sizey argument during his argument, it seems clear that this is a risk you will incur by committing him.
You may have one or more lawyers in your family. It is certainly tempting to call on his services, hoping that he will give you a lower fee. But blood ties must not be taken into account in a court case. If necessary, seek advice from your parents or other family members who may have benefited from the services of the lawyer concerned.
2. Generalist or specialist: what advocate is for you?
The master’s degree is the minimum diploma required to become a lawyer. Some lawyers nevertheless possess a DEA or a DESS. But being a graduate of a renowned faculty does not necessarily mean that a lawyer is competent in the field that concerns you. In addition, you have the choice between a general lawyer and a specialist lawyer.
It should be understood that a general practitioner has basic knowledge about all the cases that may present themselves to him. In a specific situation, he is generally less picky than a specialist. Conversely, the specialist is more skilled in a given field (divorce, financial litigation, intellectual property, for example) and may be less rigorous when confronted with a file excluded from his specialization.
3. Find out about the lawyer’s skills
Deontologically speaking, a good lawyer will have to refuse a file that he deems not to be able to defend. However, some lawyers do not hesitate to conceal their lack of competence in a given case in order to cover their own interests.
Remember also that only experience can justify the competence or not of a lawyer. Go to the website of the Bar Association of your city. The site lists the dates on which Bar’s lawyers were sworn in. Then go to Legifrance.gouv.fr where you can consult the list of trials involving a given lawyer. You will thus have reliable information about the trials he has lost and those he has won.
Nevertheless, lack of experience is not synonymous with incompetence. This is the case of some freshly graduated lawyers, giving the best of themselves to fully satisfy their customers. Ask about the motives of a young lawyer and do not hesitate to ask him frankly how he intends to beat the other party. Attention, it is not enough to be a beautiful speaker. See if the lawyer has any ideas, if his proposals are relevant, and so on.
Do not fall on the media traps. Some lawyers spontaneously offer themselves free of charge to represent highly publicized cases in order to boost their notoriety. Yet, this notoriety is not a guarantee of reliable competence.
4. Consider the impact of geographic proximity
Geographical jurisdiction has limits, as these are defined by the case concerning you. For example, an accident in Lille will be under the jurisdiction of Lille even if you live in Marseille and you are the plaintiff. In such a situation, hiring a lawyer at the Bar of Lille will be more interesting because he will be more familiar with the procedures than a lawyer residing in Marseille or in another city.
If the litigation is of relatively low importance, you will be able to save on travel costs by offering you the services of a lawyer geographically close to you. Otherwise, attempting to reduce costs may be detrimental to the progress of the case.
5. Determine the relationships you wish to maintain with your lawyer
If a case can be resolved within a few days, some cases require a step that spans many years. In order for the procedure to proceed in the best conditions, it is imperative that you feel perfectly at ease and confident with your lawyer.
As the case may be, it may be embarrassing to expose the facts to a lawyer you know personally or who has been warmly recommended to you by a relative. Even if ethics mean that your confidences are protected by professional secrecy, it may not be enough to put you in a position of trust.
It is often considered reassuring to hire a lawyer of a similar age to yours. Nevertheless, some young clients prefer middle-aged lawyers whom they consider more reassuring and more experienced and therefore more capable of defending them.
The issue of availability is inseparable from the relationship you have with your lawyer. On the one hand, there are clients who call as often as possible to get news and press their lawyer to finish quickly. On the other hand, there are those who are satisfied with regular information or not, leu being communicated by telephone, e-mail or other probative means. This will determine the category to which you belong.
For their part, lawyers are not necessarily willing to guarantee the degree of availability you are looking for. It depends primarily on their schedule. A good lawyer will be the one whose mode of operation is compatible with your expectations.
6. Evaluate the fees
Watch out for the mistake. Relatively high fees do not necessarily guarantee an excellent service, while modest rates do not always go hand in hand with a lack of competence.
The hourly average is generally between 150 € and 250 € although the range actually applied ranges from 80 € to 800 €. If you wish, it is possible to agree a flat fee. Any challenge to these fees will be the sole competence of the President of the Bar Association of the relevant geographical area.