When you find yourself dealing with a legal issue, your first move should always be to find a good attorney. Unfortunately, too many people assume that they can use a family friend—or at least, someone that a family friend knows—no matter what type of issue they are facing. While having the ear of a good lawyer is invaluable, the truth is that the help of your distant friend’s family member might not work out. Understanding why really means taking a few moments to understand how the law—and legal representation—works.
First and foremost, one must understand that there’s not a single lawyer out there who is competent to practice in every area of the law. After all, the law is an enormous field and there’s just not enough time for any one person to master everything. Lawyers specialize not only so they can become better versed in individual areas of the law, but also so that they can represent their clients competently. While a criminal defense attorney might have a basic understanding of contracts from taking classes in law school, he or she would probably not feel comfortable taking on a case based on the finer points of contract law. Good lawyers know their strengths and stick to those areas in which they are well-versed.
It’s also important to remember that not every lawyer is a good fit for every case. The friend that helped your friend out with a parking ticket might be a great trial attorney, but he or she might not be a great negotiator. The lawyer that helped your uncle out with his latest business deal likewise might not have gone in front of a judge in the last decade. You need the help not only of a lawyer who is confident in his or her ability to help you, but who has the experience necessary to bring your case to a satisfactory conclusion.
There’s nothing wrong with getting a recommendation for a lawyer from a friend or family member. Before you agree to let that person represent you, though, you need to decide if he or she is the right lawyer for your current legal situation. Lawyers are certainly not interchangeable, so don’t assume that your problems can be solved by just anyone. Always make sure to work with the attorney who you feel is most likely to help you succeed. Your friend’s lawyer uncle might be good at his job, but that doesn’t mean that he’s right for your case.