Advice About Lawyers
Chances are you have never needed the services of a lawyer before. It is quite likely, therefore, that you do not know who to turn to for legal advice, and at the same time be sure that your rights are being fully protected.
There are a few simple rules to keep in mind. There are many, many lawyers in your community - most of them good lawyers, some of them poor ones. In these days of specialization, most lawyers, like most doctors, tend to specialize. If you want a will drawn, or an estate probated, you would naturally turn to one lawyer and not another. If you are involved in a tax matter, you would turn to a lawyer who knows the tax laws. By the same token, if you are hurt on the job and want to know where you stand so far as the Federal Employers' Liability Act is concerned, you should naturally turn to a lawyer who knows and has worked with the law. It would be foolish to take your tax problems to a lawyer who has specialized almost exclusively in naturalization matters, for example, and it would be equally foolish to ask a lawyer about your rights under the Federal Employers' Liability Act if he has had little or no experience with that law. If you did so, you might make out alright - but then again, you might not. So the first thing to do, if you decide to select a lawyer and do not have one, is to find out for yourself who the lawyers are in your community who are experienced and specialize in cases arising under this particular law.
Your friends and fellow workers, and your representatives, can tell you, if you do not already know, who the lawyers are in your community who are outstanding in this field.
If you live in the average community, you will be given the names of several lawyers, probably, who are specialists in such matters. You will no doubt want only one and your problem then becomes which one to select. One fair way to start is to talk to several of them, explain your problem, ask questions, and "size up" the lawyer as you talk to him. Measure him against the others you have talked to or propose to talk to. No lawyer worth his salt will object to being measured against others in this fashion.
One of the most important aspects of your case will probably be the nature and extent of your injuries. Talk to the lawyers about this phase of the case and find out for yourself which of them seems to understand best what your injuries are all about and what the doctors are doing for you. You will soon learn that there is a great deal of difference between lawyers when it comes to the question of understanding the medical side of your case.
You owe it to yourself to get the best legal representation available. Since standards in the legal profession are such that the best will cost you no more, and probably less, than the worst, it is of course foolhardy to accept less than the best. A few inquiries among those who know will soon tell you who is the best, and if your judgment after your own observation of him, confirms that belief, then you have found your man.
Beware of the lawyer who may offer "to do it for less" just to get your case. He's already thinking of himself - not you. And above all, beware of "ambulance chasers" - the chap you didn't ask to see in the first place, and who puts the pressure on you for your case.
You will probably regret the experience if you go along with him, just as much as you would if you had a bad appendix and some fellow with a black bag showed up at your back door with an offer to take it out for you.
If you are hurt, and need legal advice, the only people in the world you should think about are your family and YOU. A lot will depend on how wisely you make your choice. Take your time, inquire around, listen to those who are interested in helping you and not some one else, select the best lawyer available on the basis of his experience, his record, and his standing in the profession and the community - and you can hardly go wrong.
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Heartland Lodge 6760, Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, August 16, 1996
Revised August 29, 2012