Your choice of a lawyer is probably the most important decision you will make in the entire process of recovering your lost savings. Every investor should consider a few basic factors before hiring an attorney.
1) Ask if the lawyer is a lawyer! Unfortunately, in the field of investor rights, there are a number of Non-Attorney Representatives (NARs) who solicit clients and “represent” them in their claims. While the NASD does not condone this practice, it has not forbidden it. NARs often don’t mention that they are not lawyers. They are not qualified to represent investors in a legal proceeding, and we strongly recommend against hiring them.
2) Ask if the lawyer is an experienced securities lawyer. You would not hire an obstetrician to treat bone cancer, and you should not hire a non-securities lawyer to represent you in your investment case. This is a highly specialized area of law where experience matters.
3) Ask who will be handling your case. At some firms, you might meet with a senior member of a law firm, but in fact all of the legal work is done by a far less experienced associate attorney. You have the right to know who will be doing the work. It is your case.
4) Ask about the size of the lawyer’s caseload. Be wary of high volume law firms. Find out how many open cases the lawyer has. If he or she has a hundred open cases, your case may not get the individual attention it deserves.
5) Hire a lawyer with a demonstrated commitment to the cause of investor rights. Lawyers with professional affiliations with other lawyers who concentrate in this area are much more likely to be current on new developments, and to have a higher level of expertise than other lawyers. The most prominent bar association for securities arbitration lawyers who represent investors is the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA).
6) Find out if your lawyer is respected by others in the field. You can do this by asking lawyers you may know, by looking at their Martindale-Hubbel rating (a lawyer to lawyer rating service), and by finding out about their publishing or speaking experience. Writing and speaking need not be a requirement, but if a lawyer has published articles in the field or has given educational seminars to other lawyers, that individual is more likely to understand the details of the legal issues your case presents.
7) Ask questions early about fees. The Banks Law Office, like many securities arbitration and litigation firms, regularly represents investors on a contingency fee basis. The fees that law firms charge typically range from 25% to 50% of the recovery. It is a mistake to make your choice solely on the amount of the fee in a large and important case. On the other hand, fees are important, and you should discuss them before hiring an attorney.
8) Most importantly, ask yourself if you have the confidence in the lawyer to trust his or her judgment. Even if a lawyer scores high on all of the other factors mentioned, if you are not comfortable with the person, choose someone else. To have a successful relationship with your lawyer, you have to have trust. A lawyer cannot effectively represent and advise a client – and a client is deprived of effective representation – without a high degree of trust between them. Your lawyer will be called upon to make recommendations and decisions from the selection of your arbitrators, to the characterization of your claims, to the selection of witnesses, to cross examination tactics, to settlement strategy. If you do not feel that you will have enough confidence to trust your lawyer’s recommendations or decisions, you should look elsewhere.
Why should you choose Banks Law Office? There are several good reasons.