I am a big believer in stereotyping when it comes to hiring an attorney. Stereotypes aren’t always true, but in general they can be a big predictor of success or failure. Your lawyer just graduated law school two months ago? Probably not the best hire you can make. Your lawyer is 90 years old? That’s a little too experienced for my taste.
One that’s popped up lately that I had never really seen much before is lawyers that don’t have an office. They register themselves with a P.O. Box and work out of their house or apartment. So if a client wants to meet with them it has to be at the courthouse or a restaurant or the client’s home.
There are plenty of attorneys with offices that meet people at those places on a regular basis. But it’s always an alternative to meeting at their office, not the only choice.
If an attorney doesn’t have an office it also means they likely don’t have a secretary a law clerk or anyone else helping them out. Who’s going to answer the phone when the lawyer isn’t available? Are you getting billed for the time it takes an attorney to type up a court motion? What happens when they are out of town or working on another case? What if you want to meet somewhere private? Do you want to talk to a divorce lawyer at your home when you aren’t yet separated or your kids are around?
There is nothing illegal about any of this, but not having an office is simply unprofessional. It’s a sign that your lawyer isn’t successful enough to even afford rent somewhere. Often that means that they will need to close up shop soon and take a job somewhere else. What happens to your case then if the new firm doesn’t want it?
Of the lawyers I’ve looked in to of late that don’t have an office, none of them carried legal malpractice insurance either which is also quite expensive and a cost of doing business. Many of these attorneys are likely well meaning and might even know how to handle a case. But part of being the “right” representation for someone is being able to deliver on all facets of a case. You might not be thinking about where you’d give your deposition if you need to offer one, but that location can be very relevant strategically.
Of course everyone has to start somewhere in their career. But the sacrifices made to achieve success shouldn’t be at the expense of your best interests.
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