Finding the Best Georgia Attorney for Your Case
Q What type of attorney do I need for my case?
A Attorneys tend to focus on specific areas where they are particularly knowledgeable in Georgia laws and court cases. An attorney “friend-of-the-family” practicing bankruptcy law may give you cheap or discounted services for a Georgia divorce, but we recommend you consult with a family law attorney. A real estate attorney may have systems and procedures in place for real estate law, but may not be up to speed on current Georgia family law issues. The attorneys of Spooner & Associates can help with you with family law, personal injury law, traffic tickets, wills, business law, and general civil litigation. If you’re not sure about the specific area of law for your legal issue, call our office at (678) 714-1131.
Q How do I find an attorney?
A Ask friends and co-workers for personal recommendations. We understand that personal domestic issues, such as a divorce and child custody, are very sensitive topics and you may be reluctant to ask for personal recommendations.
A Search the Internet to find a Georgia attorney that practices law in your area of need. Attorneys’ advertisement websites discovered through Google and Bing searches have replaced the back page ads in the Yellow Pages.
A Be sure to speak with and meet with the attorney (and not just an assistant or paralegal) to make sure the attorney is a good fit for you.
Q How do I find the best attorney?
A You have several considerations in selecting an attorney to advocate for you. Your idea of the “best attorney” and your friends’ ideas may differ. Consider your current situation and issues, such as: your location, communication preferences, the attorneys’ areas of law practice, and experience. You should meet with the attorney to ensure he or she is right for you and your situation.
Q What law directories or attorney websites should I review?
A Attorneys’ advertisement websites and lawyer directories are prolific on the Internet. Many sites claim to provide free legal advice through online Q & A. Per Georgia State Bar Association rules governing attorney ethics, attorneys cannot provide legal advice to non-clients. While the Internet is a good place to do initial research, nothing can replace a conversation or meeting with an attorney. Call our office at (678) 714-1131 to speak to an attorney and schedule a complimentary initial 30-minute consultation.
A There are several websites that provide independent lawyer ratings. Our firm’s founder, Scott K. Spooner, is rated a 10.0 out of 10.0 on AVVO.com and was selected to the 2017 Georgia Super Lawyers list (top 5% of Georgia attorneys as rated by Thompson Reuters). Speak with Scott by calling (678) 714-1131 to review your current situation.
Q What state and county court has jurisdiction in my case?
A Ultimately, you want an attorney that has trial experience in the county courts of your case’s jurisdiction. Jurisdiction issues can be confusing and the Georgia laws regarding jurisdiction in your case may be complex. In family law cases, this is especially true if you or your spouse have relocated since your marriage. Complex jurisdiction issues also occur in some family law cases of contempt or modification of an existing divorce order. Spooner & Associates helps clients in all metro Atlanta counties and northeast Georgia courts and we can help determine the proper jurisdiction in your issue.
Q How do you prefer to communicate with your attorney?
A Your convenience is an obvious consideration in selecting an attorney. After the initial consultation in our Gwinnett County law office, most of the work with our attorneys and staff can take place under your direction through phone and email. Occasionally, a face-to-face meeting may be needed for final document preparations and signings. Some of our clients prefer face-to-face meetings for most communications. We also have some clients that have never met us in person because they live out-of-state or prefer to work with us via phone or email.
Scheduling an Attorney Consultation
Q How do I schedule a consultation with an attorney?
A We understand it is important for you to speak with the attorney that may be handling your case (and not a paralegal or an assistant.) Contact our firm at (678) 714-1131 to discuss your availability. You may be asked for some general information about your situation: your name, the county where you live, the ages of your children, your spouse’s or ex-spouse’s name, your legal issue, your secure contact information through phone and email, and legal plan information.
Q Why do you ask for personal information, such as the name of my spouse or ex-spouse for a domestic issue?
A It’s a small world. There is a possibility your spouse or ex-spouse may have been a past client or previously contacted us for a consultation. Per the State Bar of Georgia’s ethics rules, we cannot represent you if we previously discussed this or any other related legal issue with your spouse or ex-spouse as a past client. To avoid a conflict and better serve you, we perform an automated review of our records.
Q Do you accept legal insurance plans?
A Many employers provide an option for a legal insurance plan benefit with companies such as Legal Resource, Lawpoint, CLC, or ARAG. With a legal insurance plan, you may be eligible to receive free or discounted legal services. All legal insurance plans and coverage levels vary.
A Spooner & Associates accepts most legal insurance plans. Please refer to your legal plan documents to obtain your benefits. Many legal insurance plans require you to first contact the legal plan for a referral or case number. When you call the firm, our office staff will ask for the type of legal plan, your legal issue, a referral or case number, the last 4 digits of your social security number, and your employer’s name.
Q Can I speak to an attorney when I call the office?
A We understand it is important for you to speak with the attorney that could be handling your case. If you are not yet a client of Spooner & Associates, our staff will request some general information from you. Sometimes we may not have an attorney available to speak with you right away, because the attorneys may be in court or in client meetings. A paralegal may be available to answer your questions. The best way to ensure you can speak to an attorney is to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation.
Q What can I expect in the complimentary 30-minute consultation?
A The initial consultation is an opportunity for you to get to know the attorney and for the attorney to learn some general information regarding your current situation. You should come prepared with your questions and relevant documents. (Review this article for details on finding a divorce attorney.) You want to make sure you and the attorney are a good fit because you will be working closely together.
Q What if I want to have documents reviewed by the attorney?
A You may request a limited engagement with one of our attorneys for a document review only (such as divorce agreements or business contracts supplied by another party). Please call the office at (678) 714-1131 with the specifics of your situation in order to schedule the document review consultation. This consultation will be billed at the attorney’s normal hourly rate; however, if you decide to retain the attorney for legal representation, the consultation fee may be waived. We always suggest that you have your own attorney review legal documents before you sign them. (Read here to learn how a “money saving” short-term decision may cost you a lot more money over the long-term.) We want to help you avoid costly missteps when settling your legal dispute.
Q Will I receive legal advice during the initial consultation with the attorney?
A Many people expect to receive specific legal advice during an initial phone call or in-person consultation; however, this initial consultation is a chance for you to get to know the attorney and see if you have a similar philosophy in working together to solve your problem. An attorney must understand the full facts of your case before providing you with legal advice or a specific course of action. An attorney that offers you a full opinion of your case or the value of your case after a 30-minute consultation is merely guessing. Other attorneys may tell you exactly what you want to hear in this meeting to improve the chance of you retaining their services. The attorneys of Spooner & Associates want you to understand the possible pros and cons of your case so you will not be surprised later.
Questions to ask in the Attorney Consultation
Q What is the attorney’s experience in dealing with similar cases?
A An attorney can save you money and time on your case when he or she is familiar with similar case outcomes in court. While every legal situation is unique, courts have a history of decisions in similar cases over time. Our experienced attorneys can advocate for you with the knowledge of a courts’ past decisions. Otherwise an inexperienced attorney can place you in the undesirable situation of paying him or her to negotiate an unreasonable position for you that is doomed to fail. Our experienced attorneys will advise you on possible outcomes of your case, so you can make wise decisions during negotiations. A failed settlement negotiation due to an unreasonable position by either party means your case will be decided by a judge or jury in a trial (which can be very expensive) and you lose control of the potential outcome of your case.
Q How does the attorney anticipate resolving your case?
A Despite popular film and television depictions of lawyers, not all cases end up in a courtroom. Since 2012, www.courtstatistics.org reports declining caseloads in Georgia courts. This can be partly attributed to the greater availability of cheaper means of dispute resolution, such as mediation. Spooner & Associates’ goals are to provide you with efficient legal solutions and save you time and money in resolving your legal problems. Our attorneys are advocates of mediation and are experienced negotiators. Scott Spooner is a registered mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution. However, when it is in your best interests, we will aggressively advocate for you in a courtroom trial.
Q What percentage of cases does the attorney try in court?
A This is an important question because courtroom trials require many hours of preparation and can be expensive. On average, the attorney’s time spent preparing for civil litigation looks like this:
A If your best interests can be served through negotiations with the other side, then you can avoid the expense of a trial. There are some attorneys that take the majority of their cases to trial to “fight for your rights”. Many times we find these attorneys cost their clients (and our clients – if they are opposing counsel) more money. The attorneys of Spooner & Associates will advise you of all your options in solving your legal problems.
Q What are the next steps in solving my legal problems?
A After learning some details of your situation, the attorney can outline the next steps. You may think you have a complex legal matter, but after learning some of the facts, the attorney may have an easy solution in mind. With their knowledge of Georgia’s laws, our attorneys can help you with a plan of action to solve your legal problems. Due to professional ethics’ rules, the attorney will not be able to provide specific legal advice during the complimentary half-hour consultation unless you are a client.
Hiring an Attorney
Q How do I hire an attorney?
A In order to best advocate and provide our clients with the attention they deserve, Spooner & Associates accepts a limited caseload. We do not operate like many of the “mill” type law firms that accept a large volume of cases and send the cases to contract attorneys. Once a Spooner & Associates attorney has made an initial determination in your case, we will provide you with a written representation agreement. The representation agreement clarifies the attorney-client expectations for moving forward with your case. In addition to financial terms, the contract with an attorney generally includes stipulations for attorney-client cooperation. You are a client of Spooner & Associates when we have acknowledged your signed representation agreement and your retainer payment.
Q How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
A The total cost to resolve your legal issue will vary and depends on the complexity of your case. A legal solution can range from sending a simple demand letter to trying a case in court. Our attorneys can best decide the complexity of your case in your consultation and give you an idea of the cost. Schedule your consultation with an attorney by calling (678) 714-1131.
Q What is a retainer?
A When you pay a retainer and sign a representation agreement with Spooner & Associates, you are retaining the professional legal services of our firm’s attorneys and staff to work on your behalf and help you solve your legal problems. Your retainer payment goes in a separate firm bank account until the firm performs work on your case. The cost of any legal work is billed to your account. You will receive a monthly invoice with details of the work performed and who did it. As a fully staffed law firm, Spooner & Associates has paralegals and legal assistants so you won’t be paying for an attorney to perform mundane tasks.
A Beware of low quotes for attorney retainers. The retainer is generally not a prediction of the total cost of the legal services to represent you. Your account may need to be replenished as the attorney continues to work on your case.
A With Spooner & Associates, any money remaining in your account at the conclusion of your case will be returned to you.
Q Do you provide flat-fee legal services?
A The attorney can make a determination in your consultation if a flat-fee service is feasible. The attorneys of Spooner & Associates strive to provide you with efficient legal solutions and work for your best interests. While you may pay less now with some legal providers’ flat-fee services, later you could end up paying more if you don’t receive a thorough legal solution that protects your long-term interests. (See this article for more information on the importance of a thorough divorce agreement.) Flat-fee services sometimes require a “cookie-cutter” approach, but our law firm believes every legal problem is unique and requires a unique solution.
Q Are there any penalties if I later decide not to pursue my case?
A You must carefully review the attorney’s representation agreement for any stated penalties. At Spooner & Associates, our clients are free at any time during the course of representation to terminate our firm’s services with no financial penalties. Our representation agreement only commits the client to pay for legal services and fees already approved and performed when the firm receives verbal and written notification.
Q What are my options if I can’t afford a retainer?
A Credit Cards – We accept credit cards for your convenience in our office and online through our secure LawPay payment website. Our firm does not charge an additional processing fee for credit card use. Regardless of the credit card processor’s fees, the FULL amount of your payment is always credited to your firm account.
A Friends or Family – We understand many people turn to friends or family for help during rough times. We can accept payment on your behalf from friends or family. We will request a signed pre-authorization before charging a third party credit card (payments page). Please note that a friend’s or family member’s payment does not alter our attorney-client privilege with you. No member of Spooner & Associates will ever discuss any aspect of your case with a third party without your written consent, even if the third party is submitting payments for your firm account.
A Atlanta’s Legal Aid Society – This organization helps low-income people with free legal services. Call (404) 524-5811 to request additional information and learn if there is a local office in your county.