Consulting a Maritime Lawyer for the First Time
by Matthew D. Shaffer on April 10, 2012
Maritime law is a broad, and particularly complex, area of law that can cover a range of issues. Whatever your specific need, selecting your maritime lawyer will be critical to the success of your claim or transaction. Here are some important issues to consider when meeting a potential maritime attorney for the first time:
1. What is Their Specific Area of Maritime Law Expertise?
As noted above, maritime law covers a broad range of claims and needs. In today's world, a maritime issue will also often cross international borders so you want to know what is the overall allocation of cases handled by the maritime lawyer. You want to make sure that your type of case falls into a legal area where the attorney already is spending much of their time.
2. How Deep is Their Experience in That Area of Maritime Law?
You should also ask your potential maritime attorney how long he or she has been working on your type of case. Since knowledge of many countries' maritime laws and international conventions will be important, you would also want to ask about what other jurisdictions and legal systems they have had to navigate in cases. You should certainly also ask about their success rate with your type of case.
3. Can the Maritime Attorney Explain the Legal Issues and System to You Clearly?
Your attorney will be your representative in all negotiations with other parties and in legal proceedings, if they become necessary. However, this is still your case and you want to be an active participant in it. When you first meet with a prospective maritime lawyer, he or she should be able to give you a clear, basic explanation of maritime law and courts. Once you share the nature of your case, he or she should also be able clearly explain what some of your legal options may be.
This type of conversation during an initial meeting is critical for two reasons. First, by hearing your potential legal options from the various prospects you meet, you can get a basic sense, from a variety of sources, of your legal situation. Perhaps even more importantly, you'll also get a sense of your rapport and quality of communication with each maritime lawyer with whom you speak. Having a strong personal relationship, with clear communication, with your attorney is both helpful to achieving success and reducing the stress of working through legal issues.
4. Help Your Maritime Attorney Help You
The quality of your relationship with your attorney will also depend on how well you communicate with him or her. Even if you ultimately decide not to hire that specific attorney, your meeting with that attorney is still protected by the attorney-client privilege, so be honest. Answer any questions the lawyer has of you fully and honestly. You aren't doing yourself any favors in your search for the right attorney if you hold back critical information or mislead the lawyer.
It can also be helpful to your maritime attorney if you bring any relevant documents, pictures, or records with you.
If you are seeking maritime lawyers who have a broad range of experience in maritime claims, contact Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris today.