One of the most emotionally draining and stressful experiences you can go through is civil or criminal court proceedings. To defend yourself in court, it is essential to hire a professional and experienced lawyer, however, approximately 130,000 lawyers are practicing in Canada that specializes in a range of different legal areas. 
Finding a reputable lawyer experienced in the area of law relevant to your legal issue is vital to a successful outcome, so it is important to do some research about a lawyer before you hire them to represent you. To help you do your due diligence here are six reasons why you should check your lawyer’s credentials before you hire them. 

1. Your Lawyer’s Expertise Should Match Your Case

The field of law is quite broad and consists of multiple different areas of expertise including lawyers working on bankruptcy, criminal cases, corporate law, employment, estates, immigration, and intellectual property. As stated by Criminal lawyer Farid Zamani based in Toronto anyone needing legal representation in a case must find a lawyer that has plenty of experience in the area of law relevant to their unique situation. Finding a law practice with attorneys who have dealt with cases like yours for years is essential if you want a legal representative that can provide you with the best advice and prepare the correct strategy for your defense.

2. A Lawyer With Local Ties Will Improve Your Chances 

Hiring a lawyer with experience and knowledge of the court system your case will be heard in can increase the probability of a good result. Every court has different procedures and protocols to follow so it is worth having a lawyer that can smoothly navigate through the legal process and find legal routes to help your case. 
Criminal attorneys that have been representing clients in the same courtrooms for years will have more insights into how local prosecution lawyers operate and the processes they will likely follow. Lawyers that have been professionally based in the same location for a long time will also have the benefit of having a good working relationship with the judges and local law enforcement and a relationship between them based on mutual respect can’t hurt your case. 

3. A Good Track Record Speaks for Itself

Choosing the right lawyer that has enough experience handling cases similar to yours is really important, therefore when checking a lawyer’s credentials it is a good idea to ask them some questions. Some questions to consider asking about prospective lawyer’s background include:
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When researching lawyers it is worth taking a look at their history and about us pages on their websites as this will give you a good indication of their area of expertise and how many years of experience they have. Established law firms will often have decades of collective experience representing clients in a certain legal field. However, it always pays off to do some extra homework and make sure your lawyer has a good track record dealing with legal issues just like yours. 

4. Personal Connections Can Help

Criminal proceedings are usually an emotionally draining and stressful ordeal during which your lawyer should become your main source of advice and support. Your lawyer is the person who advises you and presents your case to the court so it is crucial that you trust their abilities and quality of legal counsel. Although your lawyer is someone you would not normally socialize with, it is helpful to your case if your lawyer has a caring and professional demeanor that also allows you to speak candidly to each other. 

5. Good Communication is Critical 

Regular and effective communication between a client and their lawyer is vital, and professional lawyers will set out the process of communication early on. In the first consultation, you can get an idea of how willing they are to ask and listen to questions and how eagerly they take notes to start building your case.  
Your lawyer should set up lines of communication early on, usually by email or phone. An indication of how professional, punctual and responsive your lawyer is going to be can be gauged by how long they are taking to respond to calls, emails, and messages. Although understandably, lawyers may sometimes be busy with other clients, it is no reason for them to ignore clients and it only takes a few moments for a lawyer or their assistant to acknowledge your inquiry. Almost every law firm will have a front desk with reception staff who can respond to your inquiries, and schedule an appointment at the office or over the phone. 

6. You Will Save Money 

Of course, finding a quality lawyer to represent you in a court of law isn’t free as lawyers need to make a living just like everyone else and many clients don’t fully understand the hours and hours of work lawyers put into a case in addition to the years of education at law school required to become a lawyer. However, that does not mean your lawyer shouldn’t be fair and transparent about their fees, so their bills should be clear, correct, and exclude unexpected fees. 
Unethical and unprofessional billing practices to look out for are padding time, unclear service descriptions, and unexpected surcharges. A competent and quality lawyer will provide you with clear billing and inform you of the costs to expect from the start and let you know of any additional costs that could come up relating to your case such as court fees and drafting documents.  
For anyone going through criminal proceedings, it is always going to be a challenging experience, however, it can be even more stressful if you hire the wrong lawyer as it will lead to delays, errors in procedure, and possibly a negative judgment. Therefore, it is critical that you understand the reasons for checking the credentials of a lawyer before hiring them. 


Sophie H.