What to Look for When Hiring an Attorney
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Finding yourself in need of an attorney is never a fun place to be, but it can be helpful to know exactly what is important to look for in reputable, effective legal representation. Finding an experienced, communicative attorney to take your side regardless of whether you are filing a personal injury claim or filing for divorce can make a huge difference in the outcome of the case. The good news is there are a variety of questions you can ask before deciding on an attorney to represent your case.
Does this attorney take the time to speak with me personally, or am I constantly being handed off to an assistant?
It’s important that your attorney takes the time to communicate with you directly whether in-person or over the phone. This attorney will be the one acting as your legal representative, so it’s important to make sure you are on the same page. Building a personal connection with your attorney never hurts and doing so could also be indicative of their availability. Are they too busy to communicate with you one-on-one?
Does this attorney have experience handling legal issues in my field?
It’s important to research an attorney’s past cases to see if they have experience handling legal issues in the field of your problem, as well as cases which might be similar to your own. The more similar cases to yours an attorney has represented successfully, the more experience they have to use to your advantage.
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. If you think you are unlikely to get a fair settlement outside of court, it’s particularly essential to find a trial lawyer. Any lawyer can go to trial, but not every lawyer is trained in client advocacy and has experience with court proceedings like trial lawyers do.
Does this attorney take the time to explain complicated legal jargon to me, ensuring that I understand the issue we’re discussing?
Legalese can be extraordinarily confusing to those without law training, so it’s important that your attorney takes the time to explain or define confusing jargon regarding your case. Failing to explain complicated legal jargon to a client could be indicative of a lack of availability on the part of the lawyer, or even a lack of interest in the case. That being said, it’s a good idea to ask questions when you are confused, as even a good attorney might not always be aware that you aren’t familiar with the language they are using.
Does this attorney have good references?
Like with any job, you are allowed to ask your lawyer for references from past clients they have represented. If their former clients enjoyed working with the attorney and were satisfied with their conduct and the outcome of their case, that’s a good sign you might have similar success with this attorney.
What is this firm’s track record?
Many law firms post about their overall track record on their website, but if you don’t find that information, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s important to know that you have an effective and successful legal team behind your case with a proven track record of winning for their clients.
Does this attorney charge a reasonable fee based on their field?
Personal injury lawyers generally work on contingency, which means you don’t pay unless they win your case. Other legal fields often charge a retainer fee up front and then an hourly fee which could range from $50 to $1,000 per hour based on location, prestige of the firm, legal field in question, and overall experience.
It’s important to make sure the attorney is extremely clear from the start regarding these fees so you don’t find yourself stuck with a bill you weren’t prepared for. In this same vein, it’s a good idea to ask if additional costs might be included such as filing fees, postage, etc.
How available is this attorney?
Even if an attorney sounds perfect for you, it’s a good idea to ask about their current caseloads. If they are already working a number of time-consuming cases, that could leave less time and energy to devote to your case. Lack of one-on-one communication and failure to take the time to explain complicated legal jargon to you could be two indications that an otherwise good lawyer simply doesn’t have enough time at present to devote to you and your case.
If you have more questions regarding legal representation or how to file a case for your issue, seek legal counsel to learn more.