As with any lawyer, the question is frequently addressed: how to choose a “good” lawyer? Here are some thoughts, completely personal, after more than ten years of exercising this beautiful profession.
I advise you first of all to consult this article of the National Council of the Bars: http://www.laweihao.com/
1. Word of mouth
Word of mouth is probably the most common way to choose one’s advocate and may be one of the least bad. If a family member, friend or colleague recommends a lawyer, you are more likely to make a good choice.
This method has its limits too. First of all, the lawyer who defended your neighbor for his divorce may not be as competent to carry out the assignment of your business. Each lawyer has a duty of competence, and on this point must be questioned on the subjects in which he exercises. It can not claim to be able to litigate in all areas. In addition, your friend may have recommended a firm, not a particular lawyer. Now, the lawyer who defended him five years ago may have left the cabinet that you hear about today. Finally, every human relationship is unique. If your brother has been able to get along with a lawyer, that may not be the case for you, who do not have the same character, expectations, or the same story.
Word of mouth is therefore an interesting instrument of choice of his lawyer. Provided that it is not used alone. It can not be the only criterion of choice.
The quality of a lawyer is rarely (if ever) dependent on the prestige of his address and the luxury of his office. The marble staircase, precious wood parquet, moldings and fireplaces do not guarantee the seriousness and competence of the lawyer who receives you. The decoration of the cabinet mainly serves to try to flatter the client who is willing to pay this decoration in his notes of fees.
Also beware of trompe-l’œil. The attorney who receives you sublets may be only a small part of a high standing building. It is even possible to work at home and to rent only a few hours a week a beautiful meeting room in a mansion. And if the entrance to the cabinet is beautiful, the employees who will actually handle the files can, behind the scenes, pile into small uncomfortable rooms that the customer will never see.
Conversely, unhealthy premises do not guarantee that the tenant of the premises is competent. Should we not, therefore, attach any importance to the reception-beautiful or ugly-of the firm in the choice of its lawyer? Not quite.
On the one hand, the configuration of the law firm must allow you to accommodate you in compliance with the ethical obligations of the lawyer. To be received, not in an “open space” but in a place that allows the secret of exchanges is of course important. On the other hand, a lawyer who attaches importance to the comfort of his team’s work already renders a service to the firm’s clients. Beyond the floors and walls, it is mainly the equipment of the cabinet that will make the difference, materially. Means of communication (e-mails, faxes …) documentation, accounting and billing software … All these tools are useful for efficient processing of files.
3. The Bar
Is it necessary to go to a lawyer whose firm is close to his domicile or the headquarters of his company? There is no definitive answer here. In reality, it all depends on the customer. If you want to be able to be received very frequently by your lawyer without having to take the train, choose a lawyer practicing in your city, provided there is a lawyer specializing in the required area in that city.
For the rest, unless I am mistaken, lawyers are no more competent in one city than in another. Before the administrative courts, lawyers can plead throughout France regardless of their bar of origin. Before the civil courts, the same applies if a lawyer is applied. Same for the fees. To my knowledge, no statistical study shows that they are higher or lower, here or elsewhere. It is often argued that in larger cities, rents are higher. Yes and no. Our office is thus located in a borough located to the east of the capital where the rents remain reasonable and probably lower than such a beautiful district of cities other than Paris.
The first reflex of a person – legal director of a company or individual – is often to consult the “references” of a law firm on its website. Firms that present their references do so more and more often through press releases put online. Still, professional secrecy in principle prohibits a lawyer from disclosing his client’s name. The latter may authorize it to do so. However, the presentation of a “reference” is often general and does not specify what the lawyer has done precisely for this or that client.
Attention is also paid to the freshness of the information: the client mentioned in the references has since been able to change his lawyer or the attorney has been able to leave the firm. I am absolutely convinced that a client must choose a lawyer, not a law firm. And I pass I pass on pseudo rankings devoid of any scientific value. The place of practice in these “top 50” law is usually based on the amount of the check given to the publisher and the price of the table reserved for a chic evening to receive a plexi award.
5. Cross information.
Rather than relying on a single source of information, it is useful to cross-reference all available information. It is increasingly rare that a law firm does not have a website or a blog on which it presents its skills and conditions of intervention.
If you are an individual, no need to call a firm that specifies on its site to defend only businesses. If you are an entrepreneur, make sure that the firm defends many legal entities. Some firms are specialized in the defense of a specific type of company, others only advise public authorities. A law firm’s website also provides information on lawyers’ CVs.
In many cases, your file will be processed only by the associate lawyer who receives you but also (and sometimes only) by associate lawyers. Except in cases of force majeure, it is important to know the profile and even to be received by all the lawyers who will handle your file.
It is always strange and not very confraternal that some cabinets mask the portraits of the collaborators: the client does not always know who will study and write for him.