Before hiring legal representation, you’d do well to make a list of questions to ask your prospective lawyer to make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job. Hiring an attorney can be a challenge for the average layman, especially if you’ve never worked with an attorney before. By asking questions, you learn more about an attorney’s background, experience and level of expertise to narrow your choices to those who are best qualified for the job. The best lawyers are those that welcome questions and are willing to establish an open line of communications with their clients from the start.
Here’s a list of some of the most pertinent questions to ask your prospective lawyer before signing him or her on.
- What is your background and overall experience in this field? Have you handled similar cases to mine in the last few years?
Your attorney should have ample experience with cases like yours and be able to provide you with references of similar cases he’s handled in the past. Like doctors, attorneys specialize in different areas. Depending on the seriousness of your case, you want someone who’s an expert in his or her field.
- What results can I realistically expect from this case and how long might it last?
The best attorneys will be up front with their clients in explaining the legalities of their situation, what to expect from their case and how long it may last. This helps you prepare for the long haul. Be leery of lawyers who boast of victory before even starting. Your attorney should have confidence of success without guaranteeing what he may not be able to deliver.
- Are there other alternatives to resolving this situation?
As a client, you should be fully aware of all your options. If your attorney doesn’t volunteer alternative ways of resolving your situation, be sure to ask him. Good lawyers will have their client’s best interests at heart which may involve recommending ways to settle your affairs out of court.
- How will you inform me of developments?
Good attorneys often have several cases going at the same time, keeping them busy from morning to night. At the same time, they should respect their client’s need to be kept informed concerning their situation. You and your attorney should establish a system for keeping you in the loop so you are updated on problems or progress concerning your case.
- Will you personally be handling my case or will it be assigned to others?
If the case is to be assigned to a junior attorney or paralegal, you should know in advance. You should also expect to pay less for work done by less-experienced staff members.
- What do you charge for your services and what are your billing procedures?
Attorney costs vary depending on who you hire and the specifics of your case. You should discuss fee arrangements in advance so you can be prepared to meet this financial obligation. Some attorneys bill their clients monthly; others bill once services are done. It’s important to know your attorney’s fees and billing procedures up front. You can even ask your attorney for a general estimate of what the case will cost.
Knowing what questions to ask your prospective lawyer can make it easier to determine who would be the best candidate for the job.