How Selecting a Fine Wine is Like Selecting an Expert Litigator

When the waiter brings you the wine list, unless you are dining at the Waffle House, you are frequently confronted with what seems to be a limitless number of options from which to choose.  White, red, full bodied, light, bubbly—you name it.  It’s enough to make you blush.

The question becomes, how do you tell the difference between the “cuvée special” and the Mad Dog 20/20?  How can you tell the difference between swill and swell? Unless you are a sommelier, it is difficult to know the difference. And once a selection is made and the cork is pulled, it is often more difficult (and certainly more expensive) to make a change.

The same conundrum arises when selecting a litigator.  But the same principles that guide you in the selection of the right wine should assist you in selecting a lawyer.  First, you need to make sure you are looking at the right varietal.  There are many variations of lawyers.  You don’t want to hire a deal lawyer to handle a litigation matter, and you don’t want to engage a “litigator” (i.e., a paper pusher who rarely sees the inside of a courtroom) to handle a hotly contested matter.

You also want to look at the type of grapes used in the wine, where they come from and how they are blended to make the final product–just as you want to know where your lawyer was trained and learned his or her craft and the blend of experiences they have had. Next, look at the vintage—consider the years and depth of experience your lawyer has. And your lawyer needs savoir faire—judgment and finesse—knowing when to be big and bold and when to be graceful and engaging.

You don’t get to taste the wine before you pull the cork, and you don’t get to see a lawyer in action (unless they have a recorded performance on line) before your hire them. But you can ask others who have come before you.  Do your homework: ask clients, lawyers, and judges; find out who the lawyer best suited to help you with your situation is.

If you make the right choice, like a fine wine, you will be able to breathe when you have hired the best lawyer for the job.  Cheers!

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