Hiring an attorney for a potential civil case can be a daunting task for many survivors. As victims of sexual assault who were so badly violated and betrayed their trust issues with authority figures are understandable. They often are wary not only of lawyers but of the legal system as well. Nevertheless, they must hire a lawyer but importantly, one with understanding, knowledge and relevant experience to be an effective advocate.
Here are basic questions any sex crime victim should ask BEFORE hiring a civil attorney to represent him or her in the complex area of sex abuse litigation.
- Is the lawyer’s practice focused on or specialized in representing victims of crime or does the lawyer work on cases other than sexual assault such as car wrecks, trucking cases, criminal cases, family law, business litigation and other injury cases? What is the lawyer’s track record with her peers and former clients? Do they have a good reputation in the community? Is the lawyer licensed in the State where the crime occurred so they are knowledgeable about the laws there? Have they been disciplined by the State Bar organization?
Specialized experience as a crime victim’s lawyer is an important measure of effectiveness. You should research the lawyer by looking at her website, social media and local State Bar website to make sure that she specializes in the area of law you need representation in and that she is a member in good standing in the State where she is licensed. Representing victims of sexual abuse and assault is very different from handling car wreck cases and other types of personal injury litigation. Each state has different laws applicable to civil remedies available to victims of crime so it is important that the attorney is licensed in that state or has a reputable practice to associate
- Has the lawyer ever defended or represented organizations or perpetrators in a civil or criminal sexual abuse case?
You should inquire whether the lawyer is advocate exclusively for crime victims rather than someone who ‘works both sides of the fence’ and also defends institutions, insurance companies and sex abusers. Lawyers are ethically obligated to disclose any such potential conflict of interest.
- Did the lawyer take the time to listen to you? Were you asked detailed questions and do you feel comfortable with them?
Did the lawyer truly listen to you? It’s a matter of having a good heart-to-heart consultation to be sure you are a fit and that you can establish a trusting relationship. It is important to openly and confidentially share information so that your potential case can be properly evaluated.
Hiring the right lawyer to understand the complex legal issues involved in a sexual assault case can be an intimidating process, so asking the right questions help to build a relationship based on transparency and trust.
The Law Office of Tahira Khan Merritt exclusively represents victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault. We stand ready to help you with your legal needs. If you were sexually assaulted or sexually abused, our law firm can help explain your legal remedies. For almost twenty years, we have represented victims of sex crimes in civil cases against institutions, including colleges and universities, religious organizations, such as the Catholic church, Baptist church, Greek Orthodox church, Episcopal Church, and Presbyterian church among others. We have also represented victims of sexual abuse in schools, youth sports organizations, youth camps, daycares, scouting and the like. You may confidentially contact our office at 214-503-7300 or through our website : http://tkmlawfirm.com/.