Choose a Qualified Lawyer

There are many choices when it comes to hiring a lawyer to represent you and regardless of the lawyer that you chose, it is important that you make an informed choice.  Lawyers concentrate in different areas of the law and not all attorneys handle injury cases.  Of those lawyers that handle personal injury cases, not all have jury trial experience. The following questions will help you make an informed choice about your representation.

1.   Do you Practice law in Illinois?

While it may seem obvious that you would want to have an Illinois lawyer handle your case, there are commercials currently running on television from lawyers who have never practiced in Illinois.   Often, the person you see in a television commercial, if he or she is an attorney at all, will not be the the attorney who will be responsible for your case.    It is wise not to make a decision regarding the attorney you will hire solely based on advertising.

2.  How Long Have you been Practicing Personal Injury law?

Experience counts when it comes to hiring a lawyer.  Just as importantly, it must be the right type of experience for your case.  Lawyers do not graduate law school prepared to handle serious injury cases.   Lawyers need many years of experience in courtroom before they are prepared to successfully handle a jury trial in a serious personal injury or wrongful death case.   Mr. Heady has been handling serious cases, involving medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, wrongful death and disabling injury for more than 22 years.  From the beginning of his career Mr. Heady has focused on personal injury and employment cases.   He has the experience necessary to take a case to trial when necessary.

2.   Do you have experience trying serious injury cases before a jury?

Many attorneys advertising on the Internet and television have never tried a significant case in front of a jury and some have never tried any at all.    Jury verdicts in Illinois are published in several different publications, such as the Illinois Jury Verdict Reporter.    Before you hire an attorney, ask to see some of his or her published cases.   If the lawyer won’t provide this information to you, find another lawyer who will.  Mr. Heady would be glad to show you published cases where he was the lead attorney in jury trials.

 3.   Do you concentrate in any particular area of law?

Experience is only helpful if it is the right experience for the type of case you have.  Your real estate lawyer might be the best real estate lawyer in the world, but that does not mean that he or she knows the first thing about what your personal injury case is worth.   Be sure that the lawyer you hire has extensive experience handling your type of case.  Mr. Heady concentrates his practice on helping victims of negligence and those who have been wrongfully terminated.  By concentrating on only these type of cases, he is better able to help clients get the most money that they deserve for their injuries.

4.   Has Your License to Practice Law Ever Been Revoked or Suspended?

This is something that you should investigate before hiring your attorney.   In Illinois, attorneys are required to comply with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct.  Attorneys who violate these rules by neglecting their clients and in the worst of cases, stealing from their clients or commit crimes, are disciplined by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.    You can see if a lawyer in Illinois has been disciplined by checking online with the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and searching the name of the lawyer.  If the lawyer has ever been disciplined, or had his or her license suspended or revoked, this information will be provided.  You can also use this site to make sure that your attorney is in fact licensed in Illinois and to find out when he or she was first admitted to practice in Illinois.

5.   Who will be the lawyer primarily responsible for handling my case?

Even if you make an appointment with a particular attorney to discuss your case and sign a contract with that attorney, this does not necessarily mean that this will be the attorney that represent you.  Many times they client will meet with a partner of a firm and sign a contract for representation and that will be the last time that that client speaks to that attorney.  This happens when a partner decides that your case is not important enough for him or her to handle and the case is sent to a young associate.  In this day and age, it is common for attorneys to leave firms sometimes this means that several different attorneys may handle your case before it is concluded.  These new attorneys assigned to your case will not be familiar with you and the facts of your case and that can very well have a negative impact on the value of your case.  Worse yet, some lawyers with large advertisements have no intention of handling your case but instead, plan to refer it out to another attorney.  This is misleading and it is the client who suffers when this happens.   If a lawyer tells you that another attorney you have not met will be primarily responsible for your case, or that the case will have to be referred to trial counsel if the case does not settle , you may want to consider finding another attorney.   At the Heady Law firm, you’ll be represented by Terry Heady from the beginning to the end.

6.    Do you have enough time to handle my case?

Sometimes, lawyers simply take on too many cases and cannot give the individual cases the attention they need.   When that occurs, you may be pressured to settle for less than the case is worth.    Litigating an injury case takes time.    Jury trials are particularly demanding because a tremendous amount of time must be spent not only on the trial but in preparing the case for trial.   Even after the plaintiff wins a jury verdict, the work is not over.  Often, the defense will file post-trial motions, and appeals that can take years to resolve.    Ask the lawyer you are about to hire if she or he has the time and resources to devote to your case.


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