When potential clients are in the process of finding a lawyer, they often ask if the lawyer they are considering in our office is “good”. Sometimes they even want to know who in our office is “best”. The problem is, “good” is the minimum standard (we would not hire an attorney we did not think was very good), and we have no way of measuring who is “best”. Every lawyer has strengths and weaknesses, pluses and minuses, even if they are excellent overall. The real issue is not finding a good attorney, it is finding one who is good for you.
The lawyer who is good for you is one who is a good fit. When you interview an attorney, spend time considering whether the attorney seems like a good fit for you. When there is a good attorney/client fit, when both are on the same page, it is easier for the attorney to do their best work, and the client will generally be happier with the work of that attorney.
Finding a good fit means looking at a number of factors. First, does it seem like a good personality fit? You should LIKE the attorney and sense that the attorney likes you. If not, it is just going to go downhill from there.
Second, do you have similar outlooks? If you are looking for a cooperative process, you want a lawyer with a cooperative attitude. If you want to take a more aggressive approach, then you may want an attorney with a more aggressive attitude. If you are looking for a strong defender, you may want a lawyer who is very protective.
Third, think about the kind of help you need. If you expect the case will require a lot of court hearings, then you need an attorney who is particularly skilled at presenting and arguing your case before the court, but if you expect your case to be primarily negotiated between counsel, then you need an attorney who is particularly skilled at negotiation. If you expect to be highly involved in working out your own settlement, then you need an attorney who is skilled at client support and coaching, and maybe even has a background in mediation.
Finally, what are the primary issues in your case? Some lawyers are especially good at financial analysis, some are especially strong on domestic violence issues, and some have a real affinity for parenting issues.
Keep in mind most lawyers will have a mix of these skills. It is rare to find one who is good in one area and bad in another. However, it is important to look for their particular strengths, as those will likely determine the direction that lawyer will take the case.