Are you about to face legal proceedings for the first time? Finding a quality attorney should be a priority whether you’ll be involved in criminal, civil, or business law.
It’s easy to just go with the first lawyer your friend recommends or the one you find on the internet. The consequences of choosing an attorney who is unqualified for your case, however, can be disastrous. That’s why we’ve provided this list of ten questions to ask your attorney before hiring them. Asking these questions will give you a better idea of how they’ll handle your case and how they’ll work with you.
1. How Long Have You Practiced Law?
This question is designed to help you gauge the experience of the attorney. An experienced lawyer can bring a wealth of knowledge about local court rules and procedures that an inexperienced attorney might not. The amount of time they’ve been in practice isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but you might want to reconsider before becoming someone’s first or second client.
2. Have You Represented Similar Cases to Mine?
This question is even more valuable than the first. Beyond general experience, it’s wise to find out what experience your legal representative has concerning specific issues related to yours. An expert attorney with years under her/his belt might seem like a great fit for you. Yet, if you need legal advice about real estate and your attorney has spent years in criminal court, they might not be right for you.
This question can also help you understand what the road ahead looks like. If your attorney does have experience in cases similar to yours, they can help you know what to expect. How long do these cases typically last? What steps do you need to take to be prepared for this type of legal issue? Is there additional documentation that will help your case you haven’t thought of?
3. Who Is Your Typical Client?
This goes hand in hand with the second question, and it may help you narrow in on the right attorney. Finding out the typical client of your lawyer simply helps determine if they have the experience to help you. This also might clue you in to whether or not you can afford a certain attorney, as you’ll be able to assess and compare your financial situation to that of a typical client.
4. What Are Your Fees and How Are They Billed?
This might seem like an obvious question, but many forget to ask initially as they become caught up in the legal process. Legal fees, retainers, flat rates, and hourly rates can all be included and vary from firm to firm. Make sure you’re prepared to pay before you get involved with an attorney. Legal proceedings can take years from start to finish; make sure your expectations are in line with reality.
Also, discover when and how your legal fees will be billed. This will help eliminate any unpleasant surprises down the road.
5. What Is Your Strategy for My Case?
Typically, an attorney won’t give out specific legal advice during your first consultation. However, a general overview of what could be coming your way will be helpful to you. This will further allow you to estimate the length of your case and allow you to make an informed decision about hiring one attorney vs another.
6. What Alternatives Are Available Besides Court?
Although many first think of court when they talk to a lawyer, there are often better, faster, and easier options available. Mediation and arbitration are just two of the ways you can avoid going to court. This can save you time, money, and patience. A good attorney can guide you through one of these less expensive options.
7. How Will I Be Updated About the Status of My Case?
Communication can actually make or break a case. Not only can poor communication leave you feeling restless and helpless, but it can also hurt your attorney’s ability to get you the help you need. Make sure you develop an effective line of communication with your attorney early on, and ask for regular updates on your case.
8. Who Else in the Firm Will Handle My Case?
From paralegals to other attorneys, it’s likely someone besides your attorney will handle certain aspects of your case. This is important since you’ll want to know who to contact with regular questions you’ll have about your case.
9. What Are My Possible Outcomes?
Having realistic expectations is necessary in law. If you begin your case expecting either an unlikely – or impossible – case, you could be sorely disappointed. Make sure you and your attorney are on the same page and have the same goals in mind.
10. What Role Will I Play in My Case?
This final question is definitely one that’s commonly missed. Having a correct understanding of your role can significantly help moving forward. Does your attorney expect you to compile documentation to help your case? What do you need to avoid doing in order to have the strongest case? Remember, this is your case; make sure you have a role in it.
Be Confident in Your Attorney. Be Confident in Esplin | Weight.
Whether you ask these specific questions or round up questions of your own, our qualified team of attorneys is ready to answer. Contact Esplin | Weight today for your initial consultation.