If you’ve found yourself in a situation that calls for legal representation, it’s obviously going to come at a price. You ought to know the appropriate questions to ensure you’ll find the best possible lawyer for your case.
Whether you need an elder-law specialist for drawing up wills or recently suffered a car crash and therefore need to engage a personal injury lawyer, the process of lining up counsel can be bewildering.
Here are seven key questions to ask a prospective lawyer during the initial consultation.
- Ask About His or Her Background
Every case has its unique features and deserves to have a professional handle them skillfully. This is why it’s vital to explore the candidate’s background.
You probably don’t want to retain an attorney who’s only just passed the bar and obtained a license. Certain questions you can ask to explore the person’s background may include:
- Where did you graduate from law school?
- How long have you been practicing law?
- What types of cases do you mostly handle?
- How many cases have you handled that are similar to mine?
- What were the outcomes of these cases?
- Obtain Client Testimonials
A professional lawyer won’t hide client testimonials from you. Confidentiality rules will apply to their interactions with past clients, but there are plenty of review sites online where people publicly discuss their experience working with a particular firm or attorney.
Quite often, lawyers will relate testimonials on their website to promote authority and trust. See if your prospective legal counsel is willing to provide any of these details, or can refer you to former clients who’d be willing to speak with you personally.
- Discuss the Ideal Outcome of Your Case
Building trust with your potential new lawyer means he or she ought to be honest with you about your case. The person should be willing to discuss the strategy he or she might adopt moving forward, as well as what the attorney believes would be the ideal outcome of your case.
Though it’s easy to paint a perfect picture, an honest response should acknowledge the case might not necessarily end in your favor. Compare the answers you get from various lawyers to help you decide which one appears to have your best interests in mind.
- Find Out if There are Alternatives Outside of Court
In many cases there are ways to avoid having to end up in court. You might be able to settle the matter before it gets to that extreme – especially if you’re working with a personal injury lawyer.
Competent attorneys find ways to negotiate with the other party or parties so everyone may avoid a difficult and expensive trial.
It’s also worthwhile to ask the lawyer if they would still take your case whether it leads to a court trial or not. You want the individual on your team regardless of the outcome, so you can avoid having to go through the hassle of having to find a new lawyer later.
- Ask Who Will Be Handling Your Case
You might be surprised to learn many cases are handled by multiple team members. Paralegals and associate attorneys, for instance, may assist with some of the legal paperwork your case will require.
Some questions to ask your lawyer might be:
- Who will be my main point of contact?
- How often am I allowed to reach out with regard to my case if questions or concerns arise?
- How frequently will I receive updates about the status of my case?
- Understand Your Role Throughout Your Case
Understandably, you’ll want to do everything in your power to defend yourself and pursue your case. Different lawyers will have varying expectations of what your specific role will be, however.
Try to get a clear picture of what that will look like ahead of time. For instance, a lawyer isn’t apt to let you speak directly with the insurance companies in a car accident case. However, your attorney may need you to collect necessary documents to provide him or her with sufficient evidence to push forward.
- Discuss Payment Methods
Lawyers have differing methods of accepting payment. Some require an up-front retainer fee which is similar to a down payment. Others may charge on an hourly basis whether you meet them in person or mostly discuss your case over the phone.
Other approaches to compensation may entail contingency fees or fixed fees. You should always inquire whether they offer payment plans and what your financial options will be if you decide to work with them.
Choosing the best lawyer for your case means coming prepared to the consultation with all your questions ready. It also means knowing what the right questions are.
As we said, each case is unique and there may be additional details you’ll want to ask about which are pertinent to your needs. Be prepared ahead of time and rest assured there is no such thing as a stupid question. Lawyers can become rather costly, and they’re an investment in your future.