Washington Law Firm

Washington Law Firm

Choosing a Washington law firm involves a calculated decision based on what you can afford, the legal matter in question and how willing you are to work with that law firm.  The relationship between you and your legal representative is paramount, as having a poor relationship racked with miscommunication, dishonesty or other issues will surely compromise your chances of success.  Oregon law firms may practice law in Washington State, so you will have a broad range of options, particularly if you live near the border of these states.  Regardless of the location, you need a law firm that is experience in working with similar laws in state and the Washington law firm and law firms from states with reciprocity agreements, are all viable options to deal with legal matters.

Preparing to meet a Washington law firm

You need to be prepared before meeting with a potential Washington law firm as you will only have a half hour to have your questions answered and have an evaluation on your case.  Therefore, you should not only read some background on legal matters similar to your own, you must also be prepared to explain, with appropriate detail and objectivity, the nature of the legal matter and your expectations for how this matter will be resolved, be it settlement, at trial, by working with the other party or any other solution applicable to that legal issue.

Setting a fee agreement and understanding how much you will need to pay is another priority you will have when meeting with the law firm.  In particular, you will determine the hourly rate, if you are working on a non-litigation issue, any fees associated with necessary services and if you must set up a retainer.  Retainer accounts are not always mandatory but some law firms may insist on billing in this manner.

How with the Washington State Bar Association affect my search for a Washington law firm?

By order of the State Supreme Court, membership in the Washington State Barr Association is mandatory and all lawyers will be admitted, licensed and disciplined through the WSBA.  This is very useful for the client as they will be able to contact the WSBA directly for a number of issues, such as attorney discipline.

Mandatory membership also helps lawyers as well, allowing them to keep up to date with Continuing Legal Education requirements as well as utilize useful services such as lawyer assistance programs, fee dispute resolution and decisions on ethics stemming from everyday law firm practices.  A client protection fund is also in place to serve as liability protection for WSBA members.

Law office practice management programs also deal with the functioning of Washington law firms, ensuring that they are run profitably and provide the best possible service to clients. 

How do I verify the Washington law firm?

Check in the WSBA directory listings for any lawyers you work with.  They must be listed, in good standing in order to practice law in Washington.  Any lawyer that is not listed in this public directory should be verified with the WSBA before agreeing to any legal services.  Even if the lawyer need not represent you in court, any legal services provided by an unlicensed lawyer are suspect and may not be at a quality that your case deserves.  Preventing the unauthorized practice of law is one of the priorities of the WSBA.

Collecting from the Client Protection fund

You will be able to collect from the WSBA Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection only in cases of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.  Fraud does not include fee disputes and claims of over billing and instead refers to instances where the client has had their funds misappropriated and no services have been rendered.  This sort of abuse will be typical of retainer accounts.  To prevent overbilling, understand what you will pay and have grounds for lawyer complaints if necessary, have the fee agreement in writing from the Washington law firm before accepting legal services.

Securing referrals to Washington law firms

There is no statewide lawyer referral service and you will rely on local, county-wide bar association lawyer referral services for those areas.  This includes King, Spokane, Clark, Cowlitz and several other counties as well as regional lawyer referral services for multiple, sparely populated counties in Washington.  You may use private lawyer referral services too, but be aware of the fees and obligations involved in using such services as well as the criteria used to deal referrals to clients in need.

Affordable Washington law firms

Low income residents can facilitate a pro bono or low cost option for legal services through the CLEAR system, which is operated by the state as an intake, and referral service that can also furnish needy families with applicable advice related to their legal matter.  The service is staffed by volunteer attorneys and potential clients must meet strict eligibility requirements before they are eligible for any legal services.

What are the typical rates of Washington law firms?

Litigation will not cost the client a thing unless the law firm requires the client to pay applicable court fees for litigation.  Litigation with Washington law firms will work under the contingency model, with the Washington law firm collecting a percentage of the jury award or settlement.  Care should be taken to avoid lawyers that force quick settlements in order to collect easy fees rather than pursuing the case to its proper conclusion in court.

You will pay by the hour for the lawyer’s time in accordance with the fee agreement.  Check if this fee is assessed when speaking on the phone or communicating with the lawyer via email.  You should work to optimize your time with the lawyer to minimize on the hourly fees you will pay.

Not every legal relationship needs to be a lengthy matter.  In fact, some legal issues can be resolved quickly, through a flat rate service.  The creation and review of legal documents, for example, would be one such issue that can be resolved without the need for a long term arrangement.


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