A FEW QUESTIONS TO ASK (BEFORE YOU SELECT A LAWYER)

Selecting a lawyer to help you with a legal problem, can be overwhelming.  Often friends and co-workers have good recommendations.  However, what worked for them might not work for you.  You don’t drive the same car, eat the same food, or wear the same shoes as your friends and family members, so you might not need the same lawyer.

How do you decide whether or not a specific lawyer is right for you?  Many lawyers provide potential clients with a short time to ask questions before the client decides to hire the attorney.  Take that opportunity! While questions vary depending on the type of case, these questions are a great place to start a conversation with your potential attorney.

  • Given that nearly 98% of cases settle, what specific training do you have in negotiation to expedite a resolution?  Are you qualified as a mediator?  What training do you have in representing parties in mediation?  How can you leverage your training as a negotiator and mediator to save me from unnecessary preparation for trial?
  • Who will I be contacting if I have questions about my case?  Will you be available or will you be referring my case to your assistant or associate?  Can I meet him or her before I decide whether to select your office?
  • How will you help me make decisions about my case?  What type of recommendations do you typically make in cases such as mine to help clients make their own decisions?
  • How will you keep in touch with me?  Will you provide me with copies of every letter and email sent or received in my case?  Can that be done electronically?  How will those communications be private and secure?
  • Why do I need to hire a lawyer to attend to this matter?   Are there resources out there that could help me do this without a lawyer? 
  • What is your fee?  Is there a minimum fee?  Is there a maximum fee?  Does the fee cover all litigation?  Appeals?  Does the fee cover costs?  Will I be billed for postage, faxes, or overnight mail expenses? 
  • Will you be keeping records of the time you work on my case?  What format do you use?  Will I have real-time access to that information?  If you don’t keep track of the time you work on my case, how will I know what you are doing on a day-to-day basis?
  • How long have you practiced law?  What jurisdictions and counties have you appeared in?  Have you won jury trials?  Have you won cases before the Supreme Court?
  • Are you considered an expert in this or any other area of the law?  Have you published any articles?  Do you conduct workshops, seminars, or speaking engagements?  Have you taught courses at any colleges or universities?  Can I look you up on Linkedin.com to review your CV?
  • How often do you sit down and talk with your clients?  Will you schedule face-to-face meetings for clients to ask questions?  Can I schedule one for next month?

These questions may help you to begin the conversation.  Once you begin, you may find that you have many more!  Be open-minded and listen carefully.  Listen to the answers and think with your head and your heart.  If you need time to think, take a little while before you make the decision.  Recovering from any legal problem might be difficult.  Be sure you are selecting the best lawyer to help you to move forward!