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Deciding to Take a Case: How Attorneys Evaluate Your Legal Matter

We’ve discussed in previous blogs some considerations for you when hiring an attorney, but what are the considerations on the other side? What factors does an attorney consider before taking on a new matter or client.

Every case is unique, presenting its own set of challenges, opportunities, and potential outcomes. For attorneys, deciding whether to take on a case involves careful consideration of various factors. While every lawyer has their own criteria and methods for evaluating cases, here are some of the common principles that guide the decision-making process.

1. Legal Merit:

Attorneys assess whether there are valid legal grounds to pursue the matter. This involves analyzing applicable laws, regulations, and precedents to determine the likelihood of success in court. Cases with strong legal merit are more likely to be taken on by attorneys, as they offer a solid foundation for building arguments and achieving favorable outcomes for their clients.

Along with considering the fundamental legal merits of a matter, an attorney will also evaluate whether they have the necessary resources, expertise, and experience to handle the case effectively. Complex legal matters may require specialized knowledge or access to specific resources, such as expert witnesses or investigative services.

2. Client’s Objectives:

Attorneys need to assess whether they can effectively represent the client’s interests and achieve the desired goals within the constraints of the legal system. It is crucial to ensure reasonable expectations and establish objectives from the beginning of a matter. Even the strongest case can face potential pitfalls or difficulties, so it’s paramount for the client and attorney to align in their goals for the case.

3. Potential Risks and Challenges:

Related closely to the client’s objectives are the inherent risks and challenges that every case carries. This includes considering factors such as the strength of the opposing party’s arguments, potential counterclaims, and the likelihood of success at trial or in settlement negotiations. Attorneys weigh these risks against the potential rewards to determine whether the case is worth pursuing.

4. Financial Viability:

While an attorney may determine, based on the above considerations, that pursuing legal action is appropriate and well-founded, he or she must now assess the potential outcomes justify the potential costs and expenses associated with litigating the case. This involves weighing factors such as the likelihood of success, potential damages or settlements, and the ability of the client to cover legal fees, as well as the opponent having the financial resources to pay a judgment or settlement.

Some attorneys may work with clients on a contingency basis where legal fees are paid if and when a settlement or judgment is reached, but that type of arrangement has to be laid out ahead of time and agreed upon by both the attorney and client. It is important for an attorney to inform the client of the potential costs and expenses related to pursuing legal action as fees can add up quickly.

5. Ethical Considerations:

Attorneys also must consider their professional ethical obligations. This includes considerations such as conflicts of interest and adherence to ethical standards set forth by legal governing bodies. If an attorney determines that a matter would pose a conflict of interest, they would not be able to take on the matter.

Case evaluation is an ongoing process. If an attorney accepts your case, the above factors will be continually evaluated to aid in settlement discussions and trial should your matter not resolve outside of court. By conducting thorough evaluations, attorneys can make informed decisions that serve the best interests of their clients and uphold the principles of justice and professionalism within the legal profession.

Mallon Lonnquist Morris & Watrous, PLLC is a business, transactional, real estate, and litigation law firm in Denver, Colorado. The attorneys at MLMW regularly represent businesses and individuals in business and contract disputes and related litigation including corporate, employment, partnership, construction, and service agreement disputes.