Hiring an attorney can seem like an intimidating process. Prospective clients may feel agape, crushed under the impending tide of questions, like – how much money can I afford to pay; what kind of personality do I want in my lawyer; what experience and educational background is needed for my case? While it is natural to be overwhelmed by the task at hand, the lasting benefits far outweigh the temporary feelings of heartburn currently being experienced.
A lawyer is your biggest advocate, who should be working in your best interest. This means that they exemplify ethical behavior, have sound judgment, and offer cost-efficient services. When beginning your search for a lawyer, it is relatively easy to start from the comfort of your own home. There you can vet potential attorneys, see if they are properly licensed, or if any disciplinary records are present.
Once you’ve found a few potential lawyers book a few consults. Think of your first meeting as an interview, remember, you’re hiring them. Here are some important things to look for during the initial meeting:
It’s important to be able to feel comfortable with your attorney. Having a good rapport allows for open and honest communication, which is of paramount importance. Especially when it comes to money and taxes, everyone has skeletons in their closet, and an attorney cannot effectively do their job if they do not know all the information.
Transparent payment structure
An attorney that is transparent and candid about their fees, should confirm that they have your best interest at heart. There are many fee options from flat fees, to hourly and even unbundled services (limited representation). Be wary of any hidden fees, or of an attorney that doesn’t offer a payment plan that works with your budget or is relevant to your case.
Good people skills
A tax attorney will probably be interacting with the IRS on your behalf. A good lawyer will need to be personable and be able to effectively cultivate working relationships with various IRS personnel, even difficult IRS employees. An attorney that burns bridges and doesn’t communicate effectively can have a severely negative impact on your case.
Tax law is constantly changing due to new case laws reinterpreting legal statutes. Therefore, it is extremely important for a lawyer to stay relevant so they can provide sound advice and provide innovative legal strategy. An attorney who publishes pertinent articles attends workshops and contributes to speaking events is evidence of thought leadership within their field.
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