Choosing your lawyer
There is a line in a famous Cruel Sea song that goes: “better get a lawyer son, better get a real good one”. I don’t know if it is just the deep vocals of Tex Perkins that makes the predicament of the person about who is singing sound so ominous, but there is certainly something in that line – “you better get a lawyer” – that you can’t help but feel a little unnerved by.
Over the years of practising law I have found that a vast number of the people who come to see us after having been involved in an accident have never found themselves in a situation where they have needed to consult a lawyer before. This can be a very uncertain and daunting experience for people and they often struggle when trying to make what is a very big decision for them when choosing which firm or individual to engage as their lawyer/s.
So what are the types of things people should look for when deciding who they want to act for them and go into battle for them against the insurance company, and what can lawyers offer to people struggling to make a decision about this?
These days there is certainly a lot of ‘noise’ and competition out there in terms of advertising by personal injury/compensation law firms – radio ads, TV ads, ads in newspapers, magazines, and at local sporting and community events. This makes it very easy for people who are unfamiliar with the legal system to become overwhelmed and to simply choose the lawyer who has the flashiest advertising campaign and makes the biggest promises to them.
In most areas of my own life I have always relied first on the advice and experience of people close to me, who may have been through a similar thing. Therefore, I always believe that a good starting point for most people is to ask friends or family members who my have been through a similar experience.
Whilst our firm does advertise, we invariably find that a large number of our clients have actually come to us after being referred by someone who was a former client of ours and who was very happy with the service and outcome they received. Indeed, we also get referrals from people working within insurance companies and law firms who we act against, or from doctors, social workers and other community leaders who have seen the way we treat our clients and the outcomes achieved for them.
Another very good way of finding a lawyer who has a personal touch, who is going to treat you with respect and understanding, but who is also very skilled and successful when it comes to running cases, is to read testimonials from former clients.
Many law firms, including Stacks Goudkamp, will put testimonials up on their websites so that people can read the opinions and experiences of others who have used their legal services in the past. Examples of the testimonials we have obtained from our clients over the years can be found here.
In addition to these testimonials, we have been lucky enough to have a number of our former clients, clients who have been so happy with our services, offer to talk to people who are deciding whether or not to engage us as their lawyers.
Choosing a lawyer, particularly when it comes to dealing with such a sensitive, personal and important matter as a personal injury claim, can be a very difficult task. However, I believe the key is making sure you ask people about their experiences with the process and the lawyer they chose, read the testimonials on a firm’s website, meet with the lawyer and see what ‘vibe’ you get from them, whether you feel comfortable to share things with them and feel you can trust them to treat your case with the dedication, care and concern it deserves.
Written by Ruth Hudson.
Ruth Hudson is a Practice Group Leader at Stacks Goudkamp. She has experience acting for clients in a variety of areas, including motor vehicle claims, public liability claims and professional negligence claims.