Are you in need of a lawyer and don’t know where to start? In this day of information overload, it may be hard to sift through local attorneys to find the right lawyer to suit your particular needs. This article will identify key areas and questions to ask when interviewing lawyers to assist with your legal matter.
Questions to Ask When Selecting a Lawyer
Some good things to look for when selecting a lawyer are:
- Experience in Practice Area: Ask the attorney how many cases they have had in your subject area. You will want to select an attorney familiar with your unique issue. If the matter is one involving a dispute or litigation, ask whether the attorney was able to prevail on behalf of any other clients on that matter. If the matter is more transactional, such as review of a contract, lease agreement, or drafting business documents, ask the attorney for examples of other clients for whom they’ve completed this type of work.
- Cost: Ask how the firm charges the client and whether they will bill by the hour or on a flat fee basis. You should ask whether you will be charged for things like phone calls or paralegal or assistant work on your matter. Lawyer bills can often exceed what the client believes they will be paying, so make sure to ask questions about how fees are decided, at what rate, and what staff time will be chargeable to you. Many law firms do not handle cases on a contingency basis (where they do the work for free and only take fees if they recover money for the client), so if you are looking for representation on a contingency basis, make sure to ask this question first. If you have a legal issue and can’t afford representation, research pro bono services in your area, or call your local court and ask if they can provide a referral to pro bono attorneys.
- Professional History: Ask about the attorney’s professional background. Ask if the attorney has any reviews from former clients, or research the attorney online. Go to the State Bar website and search whether the attorney is in good standing and whether they have received any disciplinary censure by the Bar association. Do your due diligence before entering into a formal engagement.
- Personal Rapport: Ask the attorney for a meeting prior to engaging. It’s always best to meet with your attorney prior to making the decision to engage for your legal matter. You want to assess whether the attorney is a good fit and whether you will be able to engage in productive and cordial conversations. You will be talking to your attorney a lot, so if you can’t build a good rapport, it will be difficult to effectively advance your case.
- Availability: Ask the attorney to be frank as to their availability to dedicate time to your case. Many law firms are already busy serving existing clients, so be sure to inquire as to how busy the attorney is, how long you can expect for responses to phone calls and emails, and when they expect your work to be done. If your matter is time sensitive, make sure the attorney has time to make your case their priority.