Choosing the right lawyer is one of the most important decisions a person facing legal issues can make.

How well a lawyer handles a case can produce life-altering outcomes for a client, such as the difference between financial salvation or collapse, a client’s involvement with their own children, and in extreme cases, securing a client’s freedom versus imprisonment.

There are many qualities an experienced lawyer should possess, but here are the top 5 that potential clients will always look for.

1. Availability

Legal issues require attentiveness; sometimes within the hour in emergency situations. A client needs to know that their lawyer is available when they need them—whether by phone or in person.

In non-emergency situations, being available to return phone calls, emails, or set up a conference time is just as important. If you can’t personally respond to a client within the same business day, you need to make sure that someone at your firm can, and informs the client when you will be available.

2. Qualifications

To be in good standing with your state bar is key, but other qualifications also hold weight such as industry affiliations, board memberships, and practice history. Be sure to have past case information and references/testimonials on hand to show potential clients. If you’re familiar with certain judges, or have tried multiple cases before a particular court, this is important to disclose, too.

3. Affordability

Good legal representation isn’t cheap, and clients know this. However, this won’t stop most people from looking for the most qualified attorney at the best price. Make sure you’re offering clients the best value for their buck, and you aren’t price gouging, or trying to demand unnecessarily high fees.

4. Good Communication

The relationship between a lawyer and a client is a professional one, but also a personal one. Legal matters are highly personal, and clients want an attorney who understands their situation and can effectively communicate with them.

Don’t talk down to clients by using too much legalese, or undermining their emotional involvement with their case. Good chemistry, good rapport, and respect are critical.

5. Ethics

Attorneys are not always perceived as being the most ethical of professionals, which makes this quality one of the most sought after by clients. Stay ethical in all of your transactions. Never guarantee an outcome to a case, or give false promises to clients to appease them. Be effective in your representation, not dishonest. Clients need to know that you’re a skilled professional who runs their practice with integrity.

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