10 Questions to Ask before Hiring an Attorney
Hiring an attorney may seem like a daunting task; but what clients often forget is that the attorney is lucky to have your business, not the other way around. The attorney you hire to represent you in any legal matter should be able to explain the process and answer any questions to ensure that the client is 100% comfortable with the process and how the particular problem or need will be addressed. Below are questions that should be asked during the first consultation or meeting with the attorney you are considering hiring.
1. What areas of law do you practice?
You will want to know how much of an attorney’s practice is committed to the area that your legal question falls in. For example if you need assistance with a real estate contract, you may wish to hire an attorney who has done real estate law as well as contract review.
2. Who is your typical client?
This is an important question because it may influence how an attorney approaches a problem. For example, if an attorney normally represents small businesses and you are looking for an attorney with experience working with large corporations, that attorney may not be the best fit. By getting a sense of who the lawyer’s typical client is, it will give you a better feel if this attorney will be a good fit for your needs because you will know if you are similar or different than the attorney’s typical client.
3. What kind of special knowledge or training do you have that may help in my situation?
Some cases require specialized training, while other cases a background in the area would be extremely helpful. For example, if you are seeking legal advice on a complex tax question and the attorney has a tax background that experience and training would be very helpful.
4. What are your fees and how are they billed?
This may seem like a simple question, but it is important that you know what to expect and are not surprised by how the fee is billed or how much the fee is. Most attorneys bill hourly, but some attorneys may offer package rates. Some attorneys take a retainer while others only bill after the work is completed. These are important questions you as the client need to understand before hiring an attorney.
5. Who will be handling my case?
If the attorney you hire works in a solo or small firm, this question may not be appropriate as it is likely that the attorney meeting with you will handle your case from start to finish. However, it is good to know who exactly is working on your case, including paralegals.
6. What is your approach to cases?
This question can be very important depending on the legal matter involved and the desired outcome. For example, if you are seeking an amicable sale of your business then an attorney known for their aggressive negotiation skills may not be the right fit. However, if you are in a contentious sale of a business the lawyer with aggressive negotiation skills may be the perfect fit for you.
7. Are there alternative ways to solve my legal problem?
Just because you think you need to hire an attorney does not mean that this is necessarily the best option. The attorney may look at the presented problem and have a simple and less costly solution available to you. A good attorney will inform you of all your options.
8. How long will this take?
Some legal matters or problems do not take much time to resolve, while others may take a significant amount of time. Having a general timeline will help alleviate stress because you can know what to expect.
9. How will you communicate with me?
Communication is critical when working with any service professional, the same is true about attorneys. Ask the attorney how they will communicate (in person meetings, phone calls, emails or texts) and how often they will communicate updates. This amount of communication will depend on the problem and your comfort level.
10. What is the likely outcome of my case?
While no case or problem can be guaranteed an outcome, it is good to have the attorney’s honest opinion on the matter. It may seem simple and clear cut to you, but there may be issues that complicate the matter. A good attorney will give you an honest answer of if your matter can be solved.
When choosing an attorney, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and trust them.
These questions may help you decide if the attorney you are meeting with would be a good fit for you.