There is an excellent post by Amy Rees Anderson on Forbes.com about the pitfalls of shopping for lawyers based primarily on cost. It contains good advice about why the right lawyer is better than a cheap lawyer. What I think is most pertinent, however, is Amy’s description of a great lawyer:
Next came learning the importance of selecting a great lawyer. Again, early in my career I thought that a good lawyer must be the scariest lawyer – the one who would never back down and who would fight like a gladiator on your behalf. WRONG! I cannot express enough how wrong that was. A fight to the death, take no prisoners lawyer, is one who will alienate everyone around you that you ever try to do a deal with; they will drain your pocket book by dragging the fights out to the bitter end; and they will convince you that settling is not an option because you are right and you shouldn’t give in. In the end, a lawyer like that wins for one person and one person only, themselves. You on the other hand get to pay them for every hour they were able to convince you to let them keep fighting.
Though she primarily discusses transactional legal services, Amy eloquently expresses a principle that has guided each of the lawyers in this firm. Lawyers should not think of themselves as cage-fighters savoring battle. They should fight when necessary, but avoid fights when possible; they should understand that a deal beats a lawsuit almost every time (except when it doesn’t). Lawyers should not use the whole toolbox of legal techniques and strategies, not just the hammer.