Choosing a Lawyer
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
How to Pick an Attorney
No one wants to need a lawyer, but if you find yourself in that situation, it’s a good idea to know what kind of qualifications to look for when choosing a lawyer to represent you and your case. There are a variety of red flags to look out for, as well as signs that could indicate an attorney is highly skilled and successful in their field. One of the best pieces of advice attorneys themselves offer to those seeking legal representation is to ask questions. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations, and this is a great opportunity to ask direct questions about an attorney’s experience, time, and track record for success. It’s a good idea to reach out to more than one attorney, and not simply pick the first one you contact. Comparing different attorneys and their specialities can help you find the perfect attorney to handle your case.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Attorney
It’s important to know what questions to ask before hiring an attorney. Failing to ask the right questions could result in unfortunate oversights, landing you with inadequate legal counsel. Don’t be afraid to ask whatever is on your mind. When it comes to hiring an attorney, there really are no stupid questions. If you are going to put something as important as your legal case into someone else’s hands, you have a right to have your questions answered and doubts assuaged.
Some of the most important questions to ask before hiring an attorney include:
- Does this attorney take the time to speak with me personally, or am I constantly being handed off to an assistant? An attorney’s tendency to communicate on a personal, one-on-one level with their clients is a good indicator of whether an attorney is truly invested in a case as well as an indication of their availability. If an attorney takes inordinately long amounts of time to reply to emails or return phone calls, this could indicate that the attorney is already busy with too many other cases and doesn’t have the time or interest to devote to your case.
- Does this attorney have experience handling legal issues in my field? Each attorney specializes in a certain field or fields of law. An attorney claiming to do it all probably isn’t a great choice. It’s important to research an attorney who has sought additional training in their chosen field and who has represented a variety of cases in that field as well to ensure that they are familiar with the legislation and common pitfalls.
- If my case is likely to go to trial, does this attorney have trial experience? Some cases are more likely than others to go to trial, while others might be easily settled out of court. If you are dealing with an uncooperative defendant, or if it seems unlikely that you will be offered a sufficient settlement without the help of a judge and jury, make sure the attorney you hire is a certified trial attorney. Trial attorneys undergo additional training in client advocacy and also have experienced taking cases to trial that other attorneys may not.
- Does this attorney take the time to explain complicated legal jargon to me, ensuring that I understand the issue we’re discussing? It can be easy to dismiss a client’s questions or fail to provide explanations for the legal jargon involved in a case, but this might indicate a lack of care on behalf of the attorney. It is important to find an attorney that will take the time to explain legal terms and concepts to you, to ensure that you both understand a situation fully and are on the same page.
- Does this attorney have good references? Like when hiring for any job, you are allowed to ask for references from former clients. A good attorney will likely have good reviews, whereas an attorney who is reticent to offer references from past clients might have something to hide.
- What is this firm’s track record? Don’t be afraid to ask about a firm’s track record. Do they typically win their cases? If so, what kind of amounts do they typically settle for? What about the specific attorney you are considering? Reluctance to discuss a firm or attorney’s track record could be indicative of more losses than wins.
- Does this attorney charge a reasonable fee based on their field? Lawyers in different fields of law may charge vastly different fees. This is where it’s a good idea to do some research before agreeing to pay an attorney. For example, most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. So if you find a personal injury attorney who asks for money upfront, this could be a red flag.
If you have more questions regarding legal representation, reach out to a friend or loved one who has used an attorney before, or seek legal counsel to have your questions answered directly.