Wouldn't you rather hire someone you know instead of some random stranger off the street with a four star yelp rating?
Hiring a lawyer is hard. It's even harder when you don't know any lawyers. So, if you're lucky enough to have a friend or family member employed in the estimable practice of the law, should he be your go-to person for all things law related?
Is it a good idea to hire a friend or family member as your lawyer? Here are the do's and don'ts of hiring a lawyer friend:
- Consider Confidential Information
First things first, do you trust this person? Do you want them to know the nitty-gritty information of your finances or legal issues?
A lawyer has an ethical duty to keep all communications between you and him and all information about your case confidential. This is so you, the client, can feel confident in telling your lawyer everything related to your case, all of the good facts and all of the bad facts.
However, is this the kind of information you want a close friend or family member to know?
- Clearly Communicate The Lawyer-Client Relationship
Protect your personal relationship.
Set clear boundaries on where the personal relationship ends and where the lawyer-client relationship starts. Just like in any other relationship, communication is key. Make your expectations very clear. What are the lawyer's duties? What are your duties?
-Get a Second Opinion From Your Friend
Even if you don't hire your friend to be your attorney, he might still be a great source of information.
Is your attorney advising you to take a plea deal that you're unsure about? Ask your friend for a second opinion. Do you have a settlement agreement with your ex-spouse? Have your friend look it over before you sign it. Do you need a recommendation on a good attorney to hire? Your friend will likely know many attorneys in the area, so may be able to recommend one.
- Hire Your Friend for Family Disputes
Family disputes are ugly. Don't make your friend or family member choose sides. Chances are your friend will be conflicted between his loyalties to you and his loyalties to your spouse.
Even if your divorce is amicable, your friend cannot represent both you and your spouse due to conflict of interest. Conflict of interest is when a lawyer's duties to one party is adverse to the interest of another party. The lawyer cannot help one party without hurting the other.
For family disputes, neutral third parties are best.
- Expect Free Representation
Lawyers are expensive. There's no denying that. But, lawyers need to eat too. Don't expect your friend to represent you in a lengthy legal matter for free. Just consider, all that time he's spending working pro bono for you, he's not working for other paying clients.
Plus, it's often very hard and awkward to ask a friend or family member to pay up. So, don't put your friend in that awkward position. Keep the lawyer-client relationship professional, and pay all your bills on time. Don't let a dispute over money destroy your personal relationship.
- Talk About Your Case All The Time
When you have legal troubles, it's probably all you think about. However, don't talk about your case non-stop with your lawyer friend. Don't let your legal worries overwhelm your friendship. Keep the law talk confined to business hours, and continue to cultivate your friendship on the weekends.
If you do decide to not hire your friend for a legal issue, you can find many experienced lawyers in our Find a Lawyer directory.