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Should you find yourself facing criminal charges, the importance of getting the services of a good lawyer cannot be emphasized enough. Getting convicted could have far-reaching consequences. You could end up serving time (and this will certainly impact your career negatively) or could even face death. Even when the consequences are not this traumatic, the very act of being charged could ruin your reputation and you want a lawyer who can help you clear your name.

All lawyers are not equal and you have to make sure that you get the very best that you can afford. What should you look for in a lawyer?

Education and experience

There are well-known law schools and you want to confirm that the lawyer you intend to hire attended a reputable school. Find out not only where the lawyer went to school but also the year he or she graduated and the number of years the lawyer has been in practice. In addition to confirming that the lawyer has been practicing for a number of years, confirm that he or she is experienced in the kind of case facing you – it would not make much sense to hire a lawyer who has vast experience in family law when yours is a criminal case. Confirm also that the lawyer belongs to a reputable bar association.

Can the lawyer assess your case?

Whatever you are charged with, a competent lawyer should be able to tell you the possible outcomes. He or she should then show you the options available to you. Should you plead guilty, go to trial or enter into a plea agreement? The lawyer should also show you the problems that are likely to emerge as the case progresses and devise ways to overcome them.

Availability

Most legal practices are manned by several lawyers and although you may speak to the senior partner at the beginning, your case may be handled by somebody else. Confirm the arrangement your law firm has in place and ask to see the person who will be handling your case. Should you need to talk to your lawyer as the case progresses confirm that he or she is available (preferably on phone) at a short notice.

Fees

Good lawyers are not only hard to find but they also charge premium rates. At the very outset, confirm the legal fees you’ll be required to pay and whether your lawyer charges an hourly rate or a flat fee. Some lawyers will require that you pay all or part of the fee in advance while others will require payment at the end of the case. Confirm the exact amounts and payment procedures always bearing in mind that the lawyer who charges the lowest fee may not be experienced enough.