How to Find the Perfect Lawyer for You (even if it’s not us)

By Jennifer N. Sawday, Esq.

Lawyers want to help. We want clients and we want to solve your problems. How do you find one for your needs?

If it is transactional, say set up a corporation, form a trust, or handle a matter that is not litigated or contested (no one is fighting anyone here but you know you need legal documents prepared or legal advice), you can find a good transactional lawyer in a variety of ways.

First, if you have already worked with a lawyer and you liked how they handled your matter, ask him or her for a referral and explain what you need. If that lawyer cannot assist, they will send you their best referral.

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Jennifer N. Sawday

If you have never worked with a lawyer before, you can ask your friends and family if they have referrals. Also ask your CPA, financial planner, insurance agent, realtor, or other professional you trust.  If you receive the same referral a few times – that’s a good sign that that referral may be a good fit for you.

If you rather not ask for a direct referral from someone, you can also look where other people do find professional services. Yelp, NextDoor, and other websites and social media may give you some leads for finding a good lawyer for your matter.

You can also contact the local state bar or local law library or law school for recommendations as well. This is a little more farfetched, but ask your friends and family first and check out social media recommendations as well.

A good transactional lawyer will have intake systems in place when you contact them. They will have a receptionist, paralegal, or other intake professional where it is their job to ask you questions about your matter, run a conflict check, and offer you forms or explain how to schedule a meeting.

You will want to ask if there is a consultation fee and do not be insulted if there is one. Lawyers make money from giving advice and from experience, you want them to value you as a potential client and likewise, you can value them for what they offer.

If the matter is a litigated matter, you have been sued, you know you need to sue, or a lawsuit or divorce or other contentious matter is before you, you will need to look for a litigation or practice-specific lawyer or law firm. Most lawyers and law firms charge a consult fee for these matters, the matter is often time-sensitive with responsive deadlines due or a statute of limitations that may run… so if you think you need a lawyer in this area, please locate and consult with one or many as soon as possible. You will want recommendations almost the same way as a transactional matter, but you will need to find a lawyer that suits your style, how you want to litigate the case, and who will be upfront with you on expectations in terms of time, potential results, and costs. Most litigated matters are by the hour and depend on how the case develops, the strategies employed, and how the adversarial party approaches the case. Litigation matters require a hefty retainer deposit, cost deposit for depositions/mediation/trial, and the like.  In litigated matters, you are usually hiring the law firm and not the particular lawyer. The lawyer will staff the matter, but the law firm is representing you and will handle it as a team with firm resources being used.

There are other matters like a probate situation where someone has passed away and you need a lawyer to open probate. Same process, locate the lawyer that you like and can work with, and often those matters are paid at the end at the closing of the probate. The lawyer may request a cost deposit for filing fees and other related costs that may come up. In California, the lawyer’s fee for the probate work is set by law and due after the matter with the court having oversight.

Again, to summarize, find a good lawyer:

  • Ask your friends and family
  • Ask your existing lawyer if you have one
  • Check out social media sources and other law-related sources
  • If the same name is being recommended over and over again, that may be a good sign
  • Work with the lawyer’s intake process and see if it is a good fit
  • Do not be insulted by consultation fees

And lastly, realize what lawyers often know – most clients retain lawyers who are just like them! That’s always an interesting thought.

Do not hesitate to contact our offices to discuss and learn more, at, or (562) 923-0971).

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