It’s a good idea to meet with several attorneys before you hire one. Not only will this give you a chance to compare, but it will instill trust in your attorney-client relationship from the start.
You need a lawyer whom you feel comfortable with and who understands your situation, so ask lots of questions during your first meeting before agreeing to work together. Be sure to ask the following six things before hiring an attorney:
What Is Your Fee Structure?
When you meet with an attorney, make sure you understand the billing process. Some attorneys bill you by the hour while others charge a flat fee for specific services like drafting a prenuptial agreement or filing your income tax. Ask how often they will send you an invoice and request that all fees be paid upfront before beginning work.
Lawyers who require payment in full might not do everything possible to work within your budget because they’re motivated to get as many dollars from you as possible. A lawyer who bills by the hour will probably keep meticulous records of how long it takes to complete each task so that you can’t dispute what’s owed.
Are You Licensed In My State?
It’s important to hire an attorney who is licensed in your state. If you need help with a personal injury case, for example, an attorney from another state will have to apply for a license in your home state before they can represent you. A lawyer from out of town might not understand the local laws and customs in your city or state, which could adversely affect your claim. This is why personal injury attorneys typically have local offices, that you can easily find on their website if you search through a personal injury lawyer near me directory on the webpage.
The only exceptions to the “local-only” rule are for estate planning and international issues. You can hire a lawyer from out of state or even outside the country for these matters.
What Is Your Availability?
Even if your attorney charges by the hour or retainer, you don’t want to hire someone who is always on vacation. If they’re not available when you need them, you could lose valuable time waiting for them to return your calls. An attorney’s schedule shouldn’t conflict with yours; otherwise, it will be difficult for them to dedicate enough time to help you through your legal problem. Make sure that their office hours match your own and that they are accessible before agreeing to work together. You’ll also want to know how often you can expect that your law firm will contact you after hiring them and how often should you expect updates on your case.
How Many Cases Like Mine Have You Handled?
A lawyer who has extensive experience in handling cases similar to yours will understand how judges typically rule in those types of cases, what information needs to be presented to win, and how long it should take. If you’re hiring a personal injury attorney, for example, ask them if they’ve ever won similar cases before. Personal injury lawsuits are often complex because determining liability requires extensive research into both state laws and insurance claims history. A lawyer who has experience in the area will have the right resources at their disposal so that you can get back on your feet quickly.
Who Will Work On My Case?
You should be comfortable with the attorney you hire, but it’s also important to meet the people who will work on your case. If they’re too junior, then this may affect the quality of representation you get. Try to meet associates (attorneys in training) and paralegals (legal assistants), too, since their input can potentially help win your case. Some law firms will divide the work among different members of their team; others will assign one attorney to handle all communication and court appearances. Don’t feel bad about asking for specific names or emails so you can correspond directly with your attorney throughout the process.
What Are The Potential Outcomes?
No one can guarantee your success because no attorney has a crystal ball, but lawyers who take on impossible cases need to tell you right away. Meet with them beforehand to find out if they think you have any chance at winning your case or if it would be better off being settled or fought in court. The odds of a case being won or lost depend on many factors, which is why it’s important to have realistic expectations from the start. You should also ask them if they have a good sense of how long it will take to resolve the case. If they aren’t honest with you about your chances, find a new lawyer immediately.
Finding a lawyer can be overwhelming and to make sure you don’t make a mistake, you should know what questions to ask as well as how to find the right attorney for your case. From the fee you will pay to the number of cases they have handled similar to yours, knowing all of this information before hiring an attorney is vital in finding the right one for your needs.