Average Joe’s Guide to Choosing an Attorney

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By Rochford Law Posted on February 25, 2016 at 3:00 AM

If the services of a lawyer are required, generally it’s because there is a lot on the line. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in dire need of a lawyer too many times in your life. However, if and when the time comes that you do need an attorney, it’s extremely important that you find a good one.

Trying to choose the right lawyer to represent you and your interests can be a daunting task, and understandably so. Law is an extremely technical field, real estate law in particular. The average person is not equipped to evaluate a lawyer effectively, and this can be the cause of some anxiety.

This article provides you with some simple guidelines for selecting the right lawyer. We will first discuss traits that are desirable in prospective lawyers, and then a few things that should be red flags.


1: Honest & ethical

These traits should be your foremost concern when you are interviewing prospective attorneys. You do not want to be in business with dishonest people in general, but the urgency of this is heightened when you are hiring a lawyer. The stakes are high, and you need to be able to trust your lawyer 100%. A great starting point is to find what others say about this person.  Have they been referred to you by someone you trust and who has used them before?  Do they have a reputation for honesty?  Do they have positive testimonials?  Does their name come up on professional web sites and Google searches?  

2: Experience

As we have discussed, law is an extremely technical field, real estate law in particular. If your lawyer misses even one tiny detail, you could lose everything. That’s why it’s so important for your lawyer to be experienced in their field of practice. Not being having experience yourself, how can you verify their experience? A good place to start would be by looking at the types of matters a lawyer has handled in the past. How long have they been practicing law? What percentage of their practice is devoted to your area of need? What’s on their resume? Are they recognized by the local Bar Association?

3: They are going to look out for you

A lawyer’s primary job is to look out for you. When they take you on as a client, they are agreeing to be in your corner, and only your corner. You need to feel comfortable with them. They need to be able to keep you informed on what is happening in a way that you understand. How can you gauge this? A good litmus test would be simply to schedule a meeting with your prospective lawyer. Talk to them. Does this person return phone calls? Explain things to you? Communicate well? Do you like their staff?


1: Unwillingness to talk about pricing

Their price may not be cheap, but don’t worry about that. If you hire a cheap lawyer, you will get what you pay for. A good lawyer knows his worth, and should not be shy about explaining their value proposition to you. If a lawyer seems unwilling to talk about finances with you, that should be a red flag. You want a lawyer who is forthcoming about what they cost, and why they are worth it. This demonstrates honesty and transparency, which are both extremely valuable traits in a lawyer.

2: Inability to provide clear explanations  

There are 2 reasons that you need a lawyer who is able to give you clear, concise explanations when you ask questions:

  • Because you need them to be able to educate you about your legal situation as it evolves. You need to understand what is happening if you are going to make informed decisions.
  • Because you need to be able to verify that they indeed have the experience they claim. If a lawyer cannot provide you with clear explanations that reflect a deep knowledge in the field of law you require, they are not the right choice.

To be sure that you are hiring the right lawyer for the job, ask them questions! Ask them to describe their experience. Ask them for 3 examples of similar work they have done. Ask follow up questions. Ask for details.

For real estate law specifically, ask them how many closings they have had in the last 90 days. Ask them what they think the most important issues facing buyers and sellers are. Again, ask for details, and ask follow up questions. A good lawyer should have no problem fielding these questions.

3: Unprofessional / unorganized

The best way to tell a great mechanic is to look at their tools. If they are clean and well organized, you probably found a solid mechanic. If their tools are sloppy and rusty, you should not trust them to work on your car.

The same is true for a lawyer. A lawyer should be nothing less than polished and professional. They need to be sharp, attentive, and detail oriented. When you talk to them, they should ask you questions that demonstrate that they are really listening to you. Do not hire an attorney if you feel that they are unprofessional or unorganized.


Rochford Law & Real Estate Title is a highly specialized one-stop-shop to satisfy all your needs when buying or selling property. If you are in need of a real estate attorney  in the Nashville area, place a call to (615) 269-7676 today.

Topics: Real Estate Law, Real Estate Title