If you have suffered a personal injury (such as a brain injury, fractured bones, whiplash injury, or chronic pain), or if a loved one has been killed, it can be difficult to choose the right lawyer.
In Alberta, there are no formally recognized specialties, and a lawyer is not allowed to call himself or herself a “specialist”. Anyone can advertise in any area that they want to practice in.
So how do you find a “good lawyer”?
The best way is by word-of-mouth from past clients or from other lawyers.
You can also do some research and ask:
- Does the lawyer have numerous years of experience in handling personal injury and wrongful death claims?
- What severity of injuries have they handled in other cases?
- What percentage of his or her practice is in the personal injury or wrongful death area?
- Does he or she practice in other areas?
- What experience do they have in conducting settlement negotiations, mediations or judicial mediations, as over 99 percent of cases settle and very few go to trial?
- Do they have trial experience?
- Does the lawyer work on a contingency-fee basis or on an hourly-retainer basis? Remember that the lawyer with the lowest contingency fee percentage may not be the best lawyer in the area. You usually get what you pay for.
- Will he or she pass your file on to a secretary or junior lawyer to run it, or will they remain personally involved in your file?
- Has he or she been involved in lawyers’ associations such as the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association or the Canadian Bar Association Personal Injury Section? If so, has he or she served on the executive of those associations?
- Does he or she regularly attend seminars in the area of personal injury or wrongful death claims?
- Has he or she spoken at seminars to other lawyers in the area?
- Search the lawyer’s name in www.canlii.org to see if he or she has any reported cases.
- Do a Google search on the lawyer and the firm.
- Ask for the lawyer’s resume.
Most importantly, ask yourself if this lawyer’s personality and character is a “fit” for you, as you will be spending the next two to five years with that lawyer. Do you trust the lawyer and do you like the lawyer? Likewise, the lawyer has to trust, believe, and like you in order to make the relationship work.
At Kubitz & Company, our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers have years of experience. We are happy to meet with you on a no obligation basis to discuss if we can help you and are a fit for you.
Call us at 403-250-7100 for a free initial phone call or appointment.
Article by Walter W. Kubitz, Q.C., a personal injury lawyer in Calgary, Alberta.