Top 5 Things to Look for When Hiring an Attorney

A little research and planning can make a big difference when choosing the best employment lawyers in Knoxville TN.

Lawyers can help you. It doesn’t matter what legal issue you have, it is uniquely yours. Ideally, you want a lawyer who can handle your issue as expertly, inexpensively, and efficiently as possible. Attorney-client relationships are successful when a number of qualities are present, but what are these qualities? Is it important for you to look for certain characteristics in a lawyer who would be most beneficial to you?

If you have a employment law case, look for an attorney that possesses as many of the following qualities as possible:


A lawyer’s experience – i.e., how they and their law firm have handled matters similar to yours – is one of the most important things to look for when choosing one. Experience cannot be substituted. Similarly, you wouldn’t necessarily trust a mechanic with your car or a caretaker with your children who is inexperienced, but you are more likely to trust an experienced lawyer.

Choosing the right lawyer for your case is key. But how do you do that? A good place to start is by asking the right questions:

Approximately how long has the attorney been practicing law?

In the area in which you are seeking legal representation, have they handled cases similar to yours?

Do they have any experience handling similar cases?

How familiar are they with the laws governing the issue you are facing?

Consider the following areas of inquiry:

Were they educated at a reputable, accredited, and well-respected law school?

How well are they regarded by their colleagues?

Has their expertise been sought out by other lawyers for continuing legal education presentations?

Have they been selected by their peers to serve in leadership roles in various Bar activities and organizations?

Do they have a strong team of lawyers, paralegals, and other support staff that can handle even the most complex legal matters?

No matter what the legal issue is, you should research and investigate all of these questions before selecting a lawyer to represent you. Do your research on the lawyer and/or law firm you are considering before you hire the loudest voice on TV or the flashiest, most high-tech ad on the internet.

2. Be clear on the attorney’s payment structure before you get started

People often ask “how much is this going to cost?” when considering hiring an attorney.” This is a great question and one you should ask your attorney before you hire them.

It is common for employment law and personal injury firms to use a fee structure known as a “contingency fee arrangement,” which means they only earn a fee if they recover money for their clients. The fee charge is based on a percentage of the recovery. The time and out-of-pocket expenses are not charged unless they recover for you.

Ask your lawyer about their fee structure during your first meeting. Get it in writing from them. If they are unwilling to do that, walk away. You shouldn’t have to guess how much your legal work might cost. A detailed time accounting will be provided with their invoices if you pay an hourly rate fee arrangement, and you’ll also want to discuss how many hours may be involved in the work, how often you’ll be billed, etc.

Be confident and don’t be shy. It’s not uncommon for lawyers to avoid discussing fees just as you may be reluctant to bring it up in the first place. Don’t wait for your lawyer to break the ice on this topic. Having the fee and expense arrangement worked out during the first meeting will make it easier for both of you to move forward.


If you are like me, leaving a message and never hearing back from someone can be extremely frustrating. You start to wonder whether you are just not important to them.

It is a disservice to the client and the law practice for a lawyer not to get back in touch with them promptly. The lawyer’s staff should do everything they can to meet your needs while the lawyer is out of the office in court, taking depositions, or meeting with experts.

A prompt response time should be the norm, not the exception, regardless of the method of communication. Be sure to discuss your preferred method of communication with your lawyer when you hire him or her. Find out how often you can expect to hear from them. The process of bringing a case to a conclusion can take many months, even years. Even if there is no news to discuss on your case from time to time, you can always ask for an update.

Don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer questions, even if you have to write them down beforehand so you don’t forget. Neither a dumb question nor a stupid question exists. You can ask anything you need explained about your case if you don’t understand something. It is the responsibility of a good lawyer to explain even the most complex concepts in an easy-to-understand manner.

It is important that you have a special level of confidence when dealing with a lawyer-client relationship. The lawyer has a duty of confidentiality in virtually every case. In most cases, the attorney-client privilege prevents your lawyer from divulging what you tell him or her. You should be honest with them. When a client does not provide accurate and complete information, a lawyer is unlikely to be able to help them.

Communication with your attorney is an essential part of any legal engagement, regardless of your situation. For anyone seeking legal advice, it is crucial to a successful outcome.


Two things are meant by availability:

In your case, it will be the attorney who represents you

At all times, the attorney will be responsive to your needs

Some attorneys with larger firms – especially in the personal injury field – do not actually handle the cases themselves. While they may be the face of advertising, most of it, if not all, is done by one of their associates.

Additionally, an attorney must maintain clear lines of communication with their client at all times, and be responsive to all of their questions and concerns. When it comes to the success of your case, the relationship between an attorney and client is crucial. Communication leads to a more successful outcome.

Having a distant, unapproachable, and unavailable attorney is not a good thing. Having trouble reaching your lawyer if you need him or her is not what you want when you’re involved in a legal action. There is no doubt that you have concerns and worries. Often, you’ll have many questions. There is only one thing you want – answers – and reassurance from time to time that you are in good hands.

Communication vs. availability: what’s the difference? A lawyer can keep you informed of what’s happening with your case – but that doesn’t mean they’re available to answer your questions and address your concerns. You won’t get the personal, hands-on attention your case deserves this way.

Stress and worry can be greatly reduced by an attorney who is responsive. The more unresponsive your attorney is, the more likely you are to become consumed by those concerns. Choosing your attorney is very important, and you should look for one who will not only represent your interests, but will also be there for you if you need them.


If you are looking for an attorney, you should expect honesty from them, especially since they are representing you.

When we talk about honesty, we are referring to an attorney who will evaluate your case for its strengths, but will also be straightforward about any potential issues they anticipate. If you hire an exceptional attorney, you can expect an honest opinion about your case and an estimate of how long it will take them to resolve it.

It is never appropriate for an attorney to guarantee a result. Attorneys should give you a realistic picture of what is likely to happen based on the facts of the case and their experience and knowledge. Even the most confident assessment is not a guarantee.

From the very beginning, honesty is crucial to the success of your case. Otherwise, you may end up wasting a lot of time and effort on your case. For example, giving you an honest assessment of your case just before the verdict or settlement conference is the wrong time. In addition to telling you how much money you can expect to receive (which is very difficult for an attorney to predict), they should also tell you your chances of success. 

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