Help Me Hank: What to know about hiring an attorney during a crisis
It happens after most disasters: hurricanes, tornadoes, or even terror attacks. Victims and their families wonder how to move forward and how to protect themselves legally.
Right now, we're seeing many people consider legal action in the city of Flint because of the contaminated water crisis, and we can all learn some legal lessons from their experiences.
Many attorneys have traveled to the Flint to offer their legal expertise, but how do you know if those lawyers have your best interests at heart?
"No lawyer should be going door-to-door, should be making phone calls, soliciting a potential client. That's clearly unethical," said Local 4 legal expert Neil Rockind.
How To Hire The Right Attorney
Help Me Hank checked with the Better Business Bureau for some common sense steps you should take when hiring an attorney. Like most services, it's always better for you to have as much control over the process as possible.
Ask for Recommendations: Start by asking friends, family and coworkers if they might know a good attorney. You can also check with your state and local bar associations for attorneys with a specific expertise.
Consider the size of the firm: Does a smaller firm with the personal touch make you feel comfortable, or do you want a larger firm that has taken major cases against big business or the government.
Visit for a consultation: Schedule a meeting on your terms so you can be prepared to ask all the questions you think should be answered. If an attorney approaches you out of the blue, you may not have enough time to have a meaningful conversation.
Understand the costs: Ask for all fees and financial arrangements to be broken down in writing.
Make sure the agreement to hire an attorney is in writing.
Do Your Homework and Preparation
No matter what kind of crisis you're facing, you'll need to do your own homework and preparation so you can give your attorney the best chance for success.
Help Me Hank recently spoke with legal expert and activist Erin Brokovich about what people in Flint should be doing if they're thinking about legal action.
Her answer applies to anyone in a crisis, where legal action may be appropriate. She says people should be taking meticulous notes, taking photographs, and writing down dates and names.
She says the people of Flint have been a good example of a new form of social activism.
"When you start messing with the water and people's health, they have just been an incredible example of how to use their voice," said Brockovich.
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