There are many reasons you might need a lawyer. From car accidents to criminal charges, real estate to probating a will, and everything in between, lawyers can help you navigate the legal system and understand the laws that apply to your case. It’s important to hire the right lawyer for your particular situation in order to make the most of your case. Here are 5 quick tips on hiring the right lawyer.

Hire the right kind of lawyer

While all lawyers may have some knowledge of a variety of areas of law, hiring a lawyer who is experienced and specializes in the specific area of law in which you need help is critical. They are the ones who will be intimately familiar with the laws that apply to your case and be able to best advise you on what to do, and how to do it. Maybe you’re not sure what kind of lawyer you need. Maybe you’re not even completely certain that you need a lawyer at all. Look for lawyers that you think practice in the area (or areas) you might need, and see if they’ll meet with you. Many times, you’ll be able to get a free consultation, and that can be enough to tell you if they’re the kind of lawyer you need or if you need one at all.

Ask for referrals

Check with friends, family, co-workers or local groups on your social media platforms to see if any of them can recommend someone to you. Word of mouth is truly one of the best ways to find a qualified lawyer, as people who are both happy and unhappy with the outcomes of their cases will be brutally honest about why. Hand-in-hand with this, however, is a note that hiring a friend or relative can be a very bad idea. If they practice in another area of law, they may not be qualified to help you. And even if they do practice in the area you need, they may not be able to set aside emotion and offer you the best advice for your particular case. If referrals from people you know don’t net you much, consult your local bar association. While they may not prescreen for the lawyer’s qualifications, they will at least be able to point you in the right direction toward lawyers that practice the area of law you’re looking for.

Feel the chemistry

Finding the right lawyer can be a little like online dating: they may look good on paper, but once you’re in the same room, there’s no connection. A lawyer is representing you and your interests in a lawsuit, and if you are uncomfortable or outright dislike your attorney, it may not work out the way you’d hoped. While the lawyer will still work to the best of his ability on your behalf, if there’s a lack of understanding and chemistry between the two of you, they may misunderstand your desires and needs regarding the outcome of your case. There may be multiple miscommunications that not only leads to frustration for you, but potential problems with your lawsuit. Meet with a few lawyers and see which one you feel like you click with the best.

Make sure they’re within your budget

The right lawyer is also the lawyer you can afford. Ask about fees, expenses, and costs upfront. A good lawyer will explain what his fees are, what’s included in those fees, and any additional expenses or costs that you’ll need to pay that aren’t included in those fees. If they don’t give you that information in a very frank way, or the information makes it clear that they’re beyond your budget, thank them and move on. If you find that any lawyer seems to be out of your budget, it’s time to discuss payment arrangements. Find out if you can pay a retainer, and potentially pay the rest of what you’ll owe out of your lawsuit winnings or as part of a payment plan over time.

Check out their record

Look at the attorney’s experience. You don’t want to look just at how many clients he’s had, but how many cases he’s won and how many he’s lost. Ask to speak to former clients and find out how they feel about the outcome of their case. Did they feel he represented them and their needs? Did they want a different outcome and felt he ignored that or pushed them into something they were against? Did they get more than they expected? Finding the right lawyer isn’t like picking a meal from a restaurant menu. There are many factors to consider before deciding someone is right for you. Ask plenty of questions, and don’t hesitate to move on if it doesn’t feel right.