Top Law Firms

Top Law Firms

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Top Law Firms

A brief guide to top law firms

When you are faced with a legal situation that calls for the services of an attorney, finding a lawyer is the first and most important step. A top law firm is determined not by its size or advertising but by the specialized services it offers. As with any professional relationship, retaining the services of a lawyer is not a process to be rushed into. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are trying to find legal representation.

The structure of top law firms

Regardless of their size, all legal practices consist of two kinds of lawyers:

• Litigation lawyers review and maintain records such as real estate contracts, employer-employee contracts, tax returns and any other paperwork. These attorneys specialize in “preventive litigation,” meaning they make sure any document you sign does not expose you to the threat of a lawsuit.

• Transactional lawyers argue on behalf of clients in the courtroom.

Within a top law firm, responsibility is divided between two levels of control;

• Partners own a share of the business and divide all profits after their salaried employees have been paid.

• Associates are salaried lawyers.

The larger the top law firm, the more likely their staff is to include additional employees such as paralegals who help process paperwork or librarians who maintain company records. The biggest companies employ thousands of workers.

Specialized legal help

There is no such thing as a lawyer who is qualified to adequately represent clients in every single type of legal situation. Likewise, most top law firms tend to specialize in a few areas of legal practice. Some of the many different fields of legal practice include:

• Business law covers any contract or agreement entered into by a company, such as employer-employee contracts, making sure a workplace is in compliance with all applicable laws and other preventive litigation.

• Personal injury law represents people who have experienced substantial bodily harm caused by a defective product or another person. These lawsuits seek some form of financial compensation.

• Bankruptcy lawyers help people who are completing this highly technical process ensure they are in compliance with all law.

• Family lawyers help couples who are having difficulty completing a divorce, wish to adopt a child or otherwise need legal help with a family matter.

• Court martial lawyers represent military members who have been charged by their division of the service with a crime.

Evaluating a top law firm

Size is not an indication of whether or not a particular company can offer you trustworthy legal advice. Many websites which offer rankings of top law firms do so on the basis of the most desirable businesses for lawyers to work for in terms of salary and stress level. People seeking legal representation will not find these lists helpful.

When evaluating the claims of top law firms, the most reliable referrals can be obtained from friends, family and business associates who have successfully worked with one in the past. A local or state bar association can also refer you to a specialist in your kind of case. Many companies claim to be top law firms in their advertising, making hyperbolic promises guaranteeing results or settlements. Do not take any such statements into account when seeking legal representation.

Prior to agreeing to an initial consultation with any lawyer working at a top law firm, look up their disciplinary status online to make sure the have not been cited for any ethical violations. The size of a business does not necessarily mean its employees are trustworthy and competent.

Preparing for an initial consultation

You may need to meet with attorneys from several top law firms before you find someone you feel comfortable hiring to represent you. To get the most out of any first meeting, you should be clear about what kind of services you are looking for, the outcome you hope for, and what you can afford to pay for legal help.

Arrive with any documentation that is relevant to your case. After examining these papers, an attorney will have many questions to ask about the specifics of your legal situation. Answer all such questions in as much detail as possible and honestly. Do not suppress information that you fear may be harmful to your case. Top law firms cannot act effectively on your behalf if they do not have all the evidence that may arise in court.

Along with answering a lawyer’s questions, you should be prepared to ask some of your own. Some questions to ask during an initial consultation include:

• How much experience do you have in handling my kind of case?

• If you are not qualified to represent me, can you refer me to a specialist working at another top law firm?

• How long can I expect my case to take before reaching a resolution?

• Will you be handling my case alone or will other people be involved? 

• How many people will be working on my case?

• If I need to get in touch with you, who can I contact? How soon can I expect to hear back from you?

• Who will be responsible for keeping me posted on any developments in my case?

• How often will I be updated about progress made on my behalf?

Top law firms’ fees

During your initial consultation, it is vital to receive a detailed, written estimate of how much you can reasonably expect to wind up paying for any lawyer’s services. An attorney must explain any prospective charges you do not understand to your satisfaction. You may be paying a flat fee for a particular service. More commonly, many attorneys charge for their services with an hourly fee. 

If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit or other piece of litigation which can be reasonably expected to result in a financial settlement, some top law firms may be willing to work on a contingency basis. Rather than being charged for their services, lawyers working on your behalf will take a percentage of whatever you are awarded.

 

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