You’ve thought about it carefully. You’ve asked for advice from your friends. You have decided that you need to contact a lawyer to solve your legal issue. With more than 15 thousand law firms and 100 thousand attorneys making up the legal market in the Middle East, you will have a wide variety of lawyers to choose from.

The big problem is—how to find the right lawyer?

Let’s face it—we all have legal issues from time to time. Who do you turn to for help? When you need medical help, you call your doctor, or perhaps a hospital you have visited in the past. But most people don't have a "regular" lawyer, in the same way that they have doctors that they see regularly. So how do you find the lawyer who's right for you?

Being a lawyer myself, I clearly understand all the hassles people face in trying to solve their legal issues. And the first and most important thing they have to do is to find a trusted legal professional to consult on their matters.

Here I will give you some tips on what to look for when choosing a lawyer, and lead you through some questions that you may ask. If you do your homework, you can hire the right lawyer, the one who has necessary knowledge, experience, and expertise to help you with your problem.

Where should I go to look for a lawyer?

Honestly, there are not many ways to find a reliable lawyer. One of the best methods is through a recommendation from a trusted friend, relative, or business associate. This is easier said than done, however, especially taking into consideration that the Middle East region is full of expats. You may not know many people who could give you a recommendation.

Also, it is important to be aware that each legal case is different. An attorney who is right for someone else may not be suitable for you or your legal problem.

Can I find a lawyer through advertisements?

Ads are useful in some ways. However, you need to be careful about believing everything you read and hear. This is never more true than with advertisements. Newspaper, telephone directories, radio, television, and Internet ads, along with direct mail, can make you familiar with the names of law firms and attorneys who may be appropriate for your legal needs. Some ads also will help you to determine a lawyer’s area of expertise. Others may quote a professional fees range for handling some typical “simple” cases.

Keep in mind that your case may not have a simple solution. If a lawyer quotes a fee, be certain you know exactly what services and expenses the charge does and does not include.

Ok, where is the best place to look?

You will most likely try an Internet search. Nowadays, everything can be found on the Internet, right? An online search for a lawyer in the Middle East will result in numerous listings in Yellow Pages and other online directories, tons of advertisements, misleading recommendations on different forums and in social networks, and, of course, websites of law firms, each of which claims to be the best. Not very helpful…

Searching professional social networks like LinkedIn may be helpful in some cases, but you have to be prepared to disclose your identity. You cannot stay anonymous there.

Online legal services marketplaces provide the most valuable and convenient way to find a trusted source of legal information and referrals, along with direct interactions with lawyers. If you have a legal marketplace in your region – great! Use it.

A marketplace will not only help you to find lawyers, but will allow you to compare and select them. Their answers, legal articles, professional profile information, ratings and client testimonials will help you to see the way they deal with clients, even before you meet them.

What the most important thing should I look for when choosing an attorney?

The most important qualification to look for is your own comfort. Your lawyer will be helping you solve your problems. It is vitally important that you feel comfortable enough to tell him or her all the facts necessary to resolve your problem, honestly and completely. Nothing you read and no referrals you get will be able to guarantee that a particular attorney will be the best for you. You must judge that for yourself.  

That is why it is necessary to communicate with the attorney in order to understand if he or she is a good match for you. A personal meeting, online chat or phone consultation will help you to make the right choice.

What else to keep in mind when choosing a lawyer?

The lawyer’s area of expertise and prior experience are important. Many countries in the region have specialization programs that certify advocates and legal consultants as specialists in certain practice areas. Some legal specialties also have their own certification criteria, such as registration in the International Bar Association Middle East (IBA ME).

It’s worth asking about the type of cases the lawyer you are considering generally handles. What is the breakdown of that attorney's practice (e.g. 50% real property cases, 50% divorce cases)? Keep in mind that most attorneys are not certified in a specialty. This does not necessarily mean that a specific lawyer is not an expert in a specific field, however. One of the best considerations in favor of the attorney will be a high volume of cases he or she handles in a particular practice area.

Other things to consider are the convenience of the lawyer’s office location, professional fees charged, and how long your case may take. Last but not least will be your language preferences as your conversation can be very detailed and full of legal terminology.

Your legal issue requires the right fit with the right lawyer. By doing your homework and making use of the resources available to you, it is possible to navigate the rich and varied legal options available in the Middle East in order to find the right lawyer for your problem.

 Any opinions expressed here are the author’s own.