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Selecting a Lawyer in Atlanta

Learn the best way to choose the best lawyer for your case

Slappey & Sadd, LLC is an Atlanta based personal injury law firm that successfully handles Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Cases that may permanently impact your quality of life, income, or long-term health. Slappey & Sadd, LLC is an experienced, high quality law firm. We are careful in deciding which cases to pursue, so we can focus on helping the people who have suffered the most serious harm as a result of clear cases of negligence. To the cases we pursue, we commit the full financial, legal, and emotional resources of our firm.

What can I say? I really don't know what I would have done without you and your staff. It was a difficult time for me and you all helped me through it. I have sung your praises and also referred my friend. Thank you again. Judy K. - Decatur, Georgia

How To Choose A Lawyer

There comes a time in nearly everyone's life where the services of a lawyer are required. To help in this process, this pamphlet was prepared by the State Bar of Georgia to aid and assist individuals and businesses in choosing a lawyer. You should rely only on recommendations of friends or family members who know a lawyer personally, and know that lawyer to be a honest and effective. Some lawyers who advertise never actually represent clients--and you need a lawyer who does.

I. Identifying a Legal Problem

A good way to determine whether you have a legal problem or need legal assistance is to ask a lawyer. Most lawyers will initially discuss and determine whether you have a legal problem without charging a fee.

II. Choosing A Lawyer

Once you decide to call a lawyer, the next decision is which one. In order to determine this, the following is a list of suggestions that might help you decide who to call: a. Ask friends, teachers, employer, co-workers, minister, relatives, neighbors, or anyone you trust which lawyer(s) they have used and if they did a good job; b. The State Bar of Georgia does not refer individual lawyers but some local bars do offer a referral service. Check the telephone directory in your area to see if there is one. c. Go to your local public library and ask for the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. It lists most lawyers and their area of practice within your community, the State of Georgia and the United States. d. Ask other lawyers, or e. Call your local Legal Aid or Public Defender's office to see if you qualify for representation.

III. Fees/Costs and Initial Consultation

Once you have decided which lawyer to call, you should ask the lawyer whether he/she charges a fee for the initial consultation (first visit), and if so, how much. If you decide after the first meeting that you want to hire a lawyer, you should ask for an estimated cost for services. Most lawyers will enter into a written agreement listing the fees, costs, and the nature and extent of the lawyer's representation. You should understand from the first meeting how much the lawyer will charge to handle your case. Costs are different from fees. The client is ultimately responsible for court costs, filing fees, etc. The first time you meet with a lawyer, you should be prepared to discuss and ask questions in regards to the facts and any legal problems pertaining to these facts. Do not be shy or intimidated by the lawyer or his/her offices. The questions below are ideas for a potential client to ask the lawyer, followed by suggested direction for the client and lawyer.

1. Based on my situation, do I have a legal problem?

Client: Make sure you fully explain your situation to your lawyer. Bring any papers or documents you think may help explain the story to the first meeting. Make sure your lawyer covers both practical solutions to the problems as well as all of your options available under the law. Do not try to convince the lawyer of the merits of your position by exaggerating the facts. If you know, make sure you tell the lawyer the position taken by the potential adverse party.
Lawyer: The lawyer should have sufficient discussion with the client to determine that the facts indicate a legal problem. The lawyer should attempt to identify, as best he/she can, all the legal problems represented by the discussion of facts with the client.

2. Are you the lawyer who can help me? Is this something you routinely handle? If not, can you refer me to someone who does?

Client: It is important to discuss with the lawyer how much experience he/she has in dealing with cases similar to yours. If the lawyer doubts his or her competence to handle the matter then be sure to ask for a referral to other lawyers who are familiar with cases such as yours. Also ask about the outcome of the other cases that the lawyer has handled, as well as whether or not the anticipated fees and costs that you have been quoted by the lawyer is in line with the fees and costs charged in the other cases.
Lawyer: The lawyer should be careful to handle only matters he/she is competent to handle. If the lawyer is in doubt, he/she should refer the matter to a lawyer who concentrates in the area at issue and possibly associate himself/herself with that lawyer as an assistant to handle issues with which he/she is competent to deal with.

3. How much will this cost me?

Client: Make sure the lawyer fully identifies and explains the legal problems you currently face. The lawyer should give you some idea of the amount of money required in legal fees as well as expenses for the action that he/she is going to take for you. Whether the client is charged on an hourly basis or a contingent fee basis, the reason for the fee should be fully explained to you. Before actually agreeing for the lawyer to represent you, feel free to get an explanation of the fee in writing from the lawyer and signed by both of you. See the definitions below for fees:

  • Retainer fee: advance payment to the lawyer for a portion of his or her fee
  • Contingency fee: an agreed-upon percentage of any monies obtained through settlement, trial or negotiation
  • Hourly fee: the lawyer's hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours (or portion of hours) spent on your case
  • Fixed fee: a specific amount of money for a specific service
  • Cost advance: periodic advance payment to the lawyer for on-going expenses associated with litigation
  • Mixed fee: combination of contingency and hourly fees

Lawyer: Having focused on the number and nature of legal problems, the lawyer should explain the complexity of the problems to the client with the idea of setting forth the degree of legal expense that the client might expect. Lawyer should be forthright and communicate directly and clearly with the client regarding anticipated legal expense. Whether the client is charged on an hourly basis or a contingent fee basis, the reason should be fully explained to the client. If a retainer fee is needed up front, the client should be informed as to the reason. Within parameters, a total fee might be projected to the client so as to avoid misunderstandings later. A written agreement is recommended.

4. How long will it take to solve my legal problem?

Client: Again, ask the lawyer how long it has taken him/her to bring cases similar to yours to a conclusion in the past. Ask if your case involves issues more complex than his/her previous cases and whether or not that will affect the expected time to bring this case to a conclusion. Ask if there are any legal time limitations which restrict the length of time you have to bring an action. Ask what he/she believes to be the best case as opposed to worst case scenario with regard to the amount of time that he/she expects the case will take. If there is no way to predict how long this matter might take, what are the reasons for that? If there is anything you can do to speed up the process?

Lawyer: The lawyer should assess the legal issues involved and surrounding facts presented by the client. Based upon the lawyer's expertise and experience, he/she should have an idea as to how long it will take to resolve the problems presented. Within certain parameters, if best case as opposed to worst case, the lawyer should give the client full expectations as to how long it will take to bring the matter to a conclusion.

5. What results can I expect? What do you expect to accomplish?

Client: Ask the lawyer whether or not the facts you presented in that first meeting give him/her enough information to make a prediction with regard to the results of the case. Ask him/her to explain the law as it relates to your case and the effect which existing laws may have on your case. It is extremely important that both the client and lawyer fully understand each other with regard to the results expected. This should play a big part in determining whether or not the cost and the time involved in pursuing the matter are worth what is expected as a result.

Lawyer: From hearing the facts presented by the client, as well as other needed inquiry, the lawyer should have an idea about the strengths and weaknesses of the client's position. Based upon the client's expectations and goals, the lawyer should advise the client as to the legal likelihood of accomplishing these goals and expectations. For example, if the lawyer actually expects to have a full-blown jury trial on a matter, he/she should avoid leading the client to believe that they will settle the matter with a mere phone call. The lawyer should explain that some cases are not cost-effective if they are being undertaken as "a matter of principal."

IV. The Expectation of the Client and the Lawyer

The lawyer and client should agree on what expectations that each have and how the lawyer will try to obtain those expectations like settlement, mediation, or trial. The client has a right to expect a status report of the case and know how frequently the lawyer will provide one.

This pamphlet was prepared by the 1996-97 Communications Committee of the State Bar of Georgia as a public service. It is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of law. Its purpose is to inform, not to advise on any specific legal problem. If you have specific questions regarding any matter contained in this pamphlet, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

Communicating With Our Lawyers

We know that open communication an attorney is critically important. Our office hours are generally from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. If our regular hours office are inconvenient, we are always willing to talk at other times by appointment. Meetings can be held at any of our firm’s offices or at another location more convenient for you. We are flexible.

After hours, a message can be left in our general telephone mailbox or one can ask for the direct dial extension of a specific attorney.

Confidentiality

We take the confidence our clients have placed in us very seriously and unless granted express permission, will never discuss your matters with any other person or organization outside the firm or our co-counsel.

Basis For Our Charges - Contingent Fees

Many of our clients have significantly fewer financial resources than the well-heeled corporations they oppose who can invest almost limitless time and money in the legal process. For this reason, we work predominantly on a contingent fee basis, meaning we get paid only if we bring a case to a successful conclusion for you. This is true whether such a conclusion is through settlement, judgment, or otherwise. The percentage to which our firm is entitled as an attorney's fee is specified in our retainer agreement.

Atlanta based personal injury law firm, Attorneys Scott Slappey and Jay Sadd represent victims in personal injury, wrongful death, and workers’ compensation cases throughout Georgia.



SLAPPEY & SADD, LLC
352 Sandy Springs Circle
Atlanta, Georgia 30328

404-255-6677
888-474-9616 (toll free)
404-255-7340 fax

Serving Atlanta, Sandy Springs & All of Georgia

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