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Is the Best Lawyer the Most Expensive Lawyer?

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By Betty Wang, JD on June 06, 2013 7:01 AM

Are good lawyers expensive lawyers? Expensive lawyers - it sounds almost laughably redundant, but, there's actually quite a misconception. Because not all lawyers are expensive.

Some are even more expensive.

In all seriousness, however, there is good reason for the number of expenses that lawyers charge for. The law is often a very daunting process for most people to pursue on their own efficiently (and, well, legally for that matter). Still, though, how can a potential client tell what makes a lawyer better than some others when doing their research? Is your worth as a practicing attorney really in how much you charge?

It shouldn't be, and here are a few thoughts on what we think makes a good lawyer.

Efficiency

Be efficient while being fair. It's easier said than done, of course. While it is something that most lawyers strive for, it's often hard to be consciously aware of it at all times, especially when the caseload piles up. It is often helpful to make a list of priorities for each client you take on to assess what to tackle first. Alongside that, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of what exactly the client wants out of the case.

Also remember that your billables are not to help you rack up as many hours possible (ahem, DLA Piper). But, rather, everything you do should be a necessary part of the process in helping your client achieve the best possible outcome for their case, not yours.

Know the current law

Competency is the first rule for professional responsibility for a reason. There is nothing more troublesome and unprofessional than knowing stale law or being incompetent in a field that you are claiming to be an expert in. You may not be a law student anymore, but it is still your responsibility to learn and understand when you need to.

Communicate

Always keep your client informed of the steps you are taking and do it often. There is nothing more frustrating than doling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to a stranger, only to be kept in the dark about the process -- especially about where that money is going. Communication, as dictated by the ABA, usually is comprised of not only updating the client in a reasonable time frame, but promptly complying with their requests and inquiries, as well.

Accessibility

Being accessible applies on many different levels. This does not just mean having your lines of communication open. But, also that you should be accessible as a person. While it is crucial to maintain professionalism, remember that your demeanor should not be cold or removed, but open and understanding. The more that a client finds they can relate to you or feel comfortable with you, the more confident they will feel in you as their representation.

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