Success in life is often about the questions we are brave enough to ask, and hiring a lawyer is no different. That's why it's important to ask any new lawyer "tough" questions that get to the heart of the information you require to make an informed hiring decision.
Remember: When you're hiring a lawyer, you're the boss and the decision is yours.
Questions to ask before retaining a new lawyer
Asking the following questions will help you evaluate a prospective lawyer in terms of his or her fitness to represent you, and in terms of whether you'll have a good working relationship together:
- Does the lawyer offer free consultations? If not, how much is the first interview going to set you back, and how long will it take?
- What kind of fee agreement will your lawyer require? Do you need to pay him or her a retainer fee? Is the lawyer's rate negotiable? How much does the lawyer expect your case will cost from start to finish in terms of attorneys fees and what other costs will likely arise?
- Has your prospective lawyer represented cases similar to yours? What percentage of the lawyer's caseload has involved your type of case in the past and currently? When was the last time the attorney handled a case similar to yours?
- How many years of experience does the lawyer have? Is he or she currently licensed?
- Has the attorney ever been hit with an investigation or disciplinary action before? If yes, what was the story behind the incident?
- Will the lawyer give you references from previous customers?
- Can the lawyer give you recommendations of other lawyers if he or she cannot handle your lawsuit?
- What are the different outcomes that could happen with your case? What kinds of cost and time estimates can the lawyer provide based on the general description of your situation?
- Will the lawyer you're talking with be managing the bulk of the case, and will you speak with him or her directly, or will an assistant or a different lawyer be handling the matter?
Make sure you get along well with your attorney
After asking the above questions and any others that come into your mind, be sure to take a moment to seriously consider whether you like the attorney you're speaking with. It's vital that you and your attorney have a good working relationship and for that to happen you have to trust and like him or her as a person.
By keeping the following in mind, you'll be well on your way to a successful attorney-client relationship. You will also have significantly reduced the chances that you will inadvertently hire a lawyer who is not qualified for your issue. However, if you receieve improper legal guidance or representation, a legal malpractice attorney can help you to understand your legal options.