10 Things to Ask When Hiring an Attorney
Finding a good attorney is hard. How can you be sure that the attorney you are considering is any good? The following questions will help you determine if an attorney is legitimate and the right one for you. To hire successfully, you need to find an attorney you can trust, that has a clear strategy and proven results.
1. If I hire your firm, will you be the attorney handling my case?
You would be surprised to learn how many firms have an “attorney” salesman conduct the initial consultation. This makes it less like a legal consultation and more like a timeshare sales pitch. You need to meet with your actual attorney prior to hiring them.
2. What other areas of law do you practice?
Hopefully, the answer is none. Different areas of law have different rules and legal procedures to follow. To be successful, lawyers need to focus on one area of law.
3. Have you handled cases like mine before?
Mediocre attorneys gravitate toward a single approach to all issues and case types. The best attorneys execute a variety of game plans because they have the know-how to get it done. Knowing whether an attorney has experience with your particular issue can help you assess whether they’re the right one for you.
4. Are my goals realistic?
If you’re going to spend money on an attorney, your money should be spent in service of your goals. The attorney should be able to articulate the strategy and the likelihood of success. A good attorney will tell you when your goals are unrealistic and provide you with alternative options. People often pay more in long run for using a cheap attorney because they tend to be less effective, pursue goals that are not achievable, and drag the process out, wasting your time and resources.
5. What is the likelihood of success?
When faced with a legal issue, you need real answers. An experienced attorney will give you their honest opinion and they won’t just tell you what you want to hear. They will set proper expectations and advise you when they believe your goals may be difficult and expensive. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
6. What should I be most concerned about?
This question is critical. Every case has bad facts that can dictate the outcome. If you are open and honest with your attorney, they should be able to quickly identify your bad facts and help you mitigate any potential negative effects they will have on your case.
7. How would you approach my case?
If your goals are clear and you have accurately relayed the facts, an attorney will naturally begin to assess your case and develop strategies and ideas to help you achieve your goals. At a consultation, an attorney should identify what’s important to you, advise you of your options, and create a plan to achieve your objectives.
8. What will the first 2 months look like?
This should be a fairly simple answer for an attorney. Depending on the status, urgency, and direction of your case, the attorney should be able to lay the foundation and explain what the early stages will look like. The strategy and plan may shift during this time to address any factual or procedural issues that are uncovered once all of the facts are known.
9. What is your representation style?
Your attorney’s approach to communication and behavior should resonate with you personally. This does not mean that you need your attorney to be your best friend, but when you hire an attorney, they represent you. You need to be comfortable with how they interact and treat others. Their behavior reflects on you, so choose someone who aligns with your values and your goals.
10. Do you collaborate with your clients?
You are the best resource for your case. You know the opposing party and the issues better than anyone. Your attorney should be relying on you for timelines, fact patterns, and achievable goals. You should depend on your attorney to navigate your matter ethically and reasonably, but with your role as active as you are comfortable.