Choosing Your Lawyer

Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of our video blog. I’m Marcus Michles here at Michles & Booth. I’m going to talk to you this morning about something that’s about 50% law and fifty percent common sense. It has to do with choosing a law firm that’s right for you and choosing a lawyer that you’re comfortable with. If you’re watching this the odds are pretty good that you’re familiar with us and our firm. We’ve got offices here in the Panhandle in Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, and in Pensacola. We’ve been here for quite a long time as have a lot of other law firms and good law firms.

If you drive the streets you see the billboards and you watch television. You see the to the commercials and listen to the radio and what you’ve probably noticed is there’s been an influx of a lot of lawyers and law firms from outside of the area. Some of them are very reputable firms, some of them are very old and established firms but some of them are really just throwing a hook in the water baiting the hook and casting it out and seeing what they catch. So let me talk to you about the difference between hiring a local law firm and a law firm from, for example Montgomery or Alabama. Somewhere in Orlando or bigger city firms that have advertisements on TV but don’t necessarily have offices or lawyers here locally.

Here’s why that makes a difference. Just yesterday I represented a client and I had a meeting with one of their doctors. You know because Pensacola is not the biggest place in the world, I know the doctor and I’ve known him for some time. We’re not socially friends and we our wives don’t socialize but we know each other through the business community and we’ve both been around a long time. Now that doctor isn’t out to do me any favors but he’s not out to do me any harm either. He knows I’m going to be around tomorrow, the day after tomorrow and next year. He has formed an opinion of my reputation. He’s familiar with our business. He knows that we represent his patients and he knows that we’ve been doing that for a long time. Because of that I’m able to get cooperation from, not only the doctors that are treating my clients, but also doctors that I want to treat my clients.

That’s perhaps the biggest advantage of hiring a local law firm. Yeah there are arguments that well we know the judges, and we do, but more importantly the judges know us. So they hold us accountable for what we do. The judges know which lawyers have good reputations for being well prepared and which lawyers don’t have such a good reputation and are not always well prepared. The judges know that and what about juries? What if you can’t resolve your case and you’re trying a case in a jury of your peers? Well it really helps if the lawyer knows the community, knows what’s important in that community. Not only knows the people. It’s not that I’m going to know the jurors and it’s not that I’m going to hope that they know me but they’re going to know our reputation whether it’s good in heir mind or bad in their mind. They’re going to be familiar with us. You’re going to know we’ve been here. They’re going to know what we do. They’re probably going to know somebody that we’ve come across either as a witness or a client or somebody we’ve had dealings with. That can create a significant advantage in the courtroom. Just picking the jury and knowing the schools, knowing the hospitals, knowing the doctors, Being familiar with the local environment creates a lot of advantages.

You know even when I’m dealing with insurance companies whose representatives are in Chicago, or Atlanta, or Hartford, Connecticut. Those adjusters don’t know the streets, they don’t know the people, they don’t know the quality or character of the witnesses. They don’t know the quality or skill level of the doctors. They’re disconnected from the community and that allows us a great advantage. So when you’re going to meet with a lawyer and I stressed those words when you’re going to meet with a lawyer. Not meet with the investigator, not meet with some person who signs the case up. Not meet with some traveling Roadshow representative that drives around and has papers for you to sign.

When you meet with the lawyer, assess the lawyers candor, assess how long they’ve been doing what they’ve been doing. Assess where they’ve been doing it. Ask questions and get comfortable with the fact that that law firm and you are going to have a relationship. Both sides that both individuals, the lawyer and the client have responsibilities. You’ve got to go treat you’ve got to follow your direction or your doctor’s direction. You’ve got to do some things that help your lawyer be successful. But more importantly you’ve got to have a relationship with that lawyer. Not the lawyers representative, not the lawyers surrogate, not their paralegal, not there runner, not their administrative assistant, but the lawyer.

So meet with them, look them in the eye. Ask them the hard questions and most of all if you don’t feel comfortable go meet a different lawyer. That goes for everybody. That goes for me too. If you sit down with me or one of our lawyers and you don’t feel confident. You don’t feel right. That ‘s not the lawyer for you regardless of the big buildings or the billboards or the clever television commercials. Make sure that lawyer is a good fit for you. So if you don’t take away anything else from this week’s edition take away this, it’s not just a function of supporting local economies. It’s not just a function of staying local. It’s a function of building a relationship with a lawyer that you can trust thats been in that environment, thats been in that community and understands that environment. Well so I’m Marcus Michles on behalf of Michles & Booth. If you’ve got a question or you’ve got a topic, you want us to handle, give me a call. You can find us at, Blake’s nodding saying I finally got that right. I’ll take your call so we’ll take your emails. Get in touch with us but most of all stay plugged in and hire a local attorney to help you if you need one. Thanks.


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