Hiring an Attorney: Does Size Matter?
Hiring an attorney is not as easy as it should be. You want to make sure that you are getting someone who is experienced and is someone that you can work with. Often, potential clients looking for an attorney will base their decision on the attorney’s office and its appearance.
There are times when the physical appearance of an attorney's office can give you some insight as to how the attorney practices. Other times the appearance of the office is completely irrelevant. So what are some of the observations you as a potential client can make about an attorney from the appearance or condition of his or her office?
Size does not always matter. A solo practitioner can be an extremely competent and successful attorney even though his office is very small. The size of the attorney's office really should not matter. Obviously, large law firms with many attorneys are going to have larger offices then a small firm or solo practitioner. Aside from that distinction, the size of an attorney's office is relatively meaningless. Remember, you are hiring the attorney not the physical office. Occasionally, a very inexperienced lawyer will have a very impressive office. Don’t let the size of the office be a deciding factor.
LACK OF ORGANIZATION
Attorneys should be reasonably organized. An organized attorney is generally more efficient and effective when handling legal matters. This does not mean that every attorney's office should be meticulously organized.
That being said, it is generally never a good sign when an attorney's office is littered with papers and files or the attorney has to rummage through drawers or piles of paper to locate something. That could be the sign of a disorganized person, which is not a good quality for a lawyer.
While there are some attorneys whose offices look like a bomb was dropped yet they are still highly effective. They are the exception, not the rule. The general rule of thumb is that if you believe that the attorney does not know where anything is and has no sense of organization, you might want to interview other attorneys before you retain “Mr. Disorganized, Esq.”
Similar to the size of the office, the size of the support staff can also be deceiving. Just because the attorney has a large number of support personnel doesn’t mean the attorney is better than one with a small or no staff. It just means that they have a larger payroll expense to deal with every month.
Don't be fooled into thinking that the support staff means the lawyer is accomplished or successful. You need to make sure that you are getting a good impression of the attorney, not the support staff. There are thousands of highly skilled attorneys who don't have any support staff. In fact, many clients complain that they never actually get to speak to the attorney but rather are forced to speak to secretaries and paralegals. Thus, an attorney with a large support staff doesn't mean that the attorney is better
While you can learn some things about an attorney from his or her office, don't always judge a book by its cover. Is more important for you to meet with the attorney and get a general understanding of his or her attitude, demeanor and responsiveness. There are plenty of attorneys out there with wonderful offices who are horrible attorneys. You should be looking to make a connection with the attorney, not his office or staff.
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