Recently I (Matthew Linde, Esq.) was speaking with a potential client about estate planning. I always ask people I am privileged to speak with how they found me. This person said “I found you on the internet, but that is not a good way to find an attorney.” This surprised me and I asked her how should you find an attorney? She really did not have an answer. This got me thinking, how should you choose an attorney?
No one can do everything. What should you look for when choosing an attorney? First, just because someone is an attorney, that doesn’t mean they can help you. For example, attorneys who practice many different areas (i.e., personal injury, business, estate planning, and immigration law) cannot be very knowledgeable in any one area. Personal injury has nothing to do with estate planning and when you see this type of breadth, there is a good possibility that the attorney is trying to be all things to all people. A jack of all trades and a master of none is not who you want to solve your legal problems. I concentrate my practice on a few areas that are all interrelated.
Just because the attorney has been doing that a long time does not mean that the attorney has been doing it right. Just because any attorney concentrates his or her practice in a few areas that does not mean that the attorney is technically competent. Years of experience can be one way to judge technical competence, but doing something incorrectly for many years is unlikely to solve your problem. For you the consumer, how do you tell if someone is technically competent? One way to tell is what steps has that attorney taken to demonstrate he or she is technically competent? For example, in 2010 Matthew Linde, Esq., who is not board certified by the Florida Bar, passed the 2010 Florida Elder Law Board Certification Exam and the 2010 Florida Wills, Trusts and Estates Board Certification Exam in the same year. Out of over 74,000 attorneys in the state of Florida, there is (as of January 10, 2011) one (1) other attorney that passed both of these exams in one year. Passing the certification exam is a step in the board certification process. Mr. Linde is pursuing board certification. Passing both these exams demonstrates Mr. Linde’s desire to relentlessly pursue perfection in the passionate and ethical practice of law as reflected in the firm's mission statement.
Law is complicated; if you feel compelled to ask how long your potential attorney has been working then . . . Of course, just because an attorney has been practicing only a few years that does not mean that he or she cannot assist you in solving your problem. If you have a simple task (i.e., evicting a tenant who did not pay rent) then why pay a higher hourly fee when a less experienced attorney with a lower hourly rate can solve your problem? However, if you have a complicated estate dispute with estate tax implications, then you need someone with significant experience. I started practicing law over 17 years ago.
Great, but do you currently have time to handle my problem? Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! This is the question that you should always ask a competent, experienced professional who concentrates his or her practice in the area that you need legal assistance in. Many lawyers can be blessed (sometimes it seems like cursed) by his or her own success. Just because a lawyer is qualified, that does not mean the lawyer has the time to help you. All experienced professionals at one time or another are too busy to help you. Thus, always ask the professional if they have time to help you now.
In summary, what is important is not how you meet the lawyer, but what factors you should consider when deciding whether a lawyer is qualified to help solve your problem. Please note that the factors listed above is not an all inclusive list. Contact Matthew A. Linde, P.A. today for more information.
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Matthew A. Linde, P.A.
12693 New Brittany Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33907
Toll Free: 888.643.6514