Hiring a Lawyer? 5 Questions to Ask

It’s always a good idea to ask friends for recommendations and check out the obvious websites. But to help you decide who to hire, ask these questions.

Has the attorney ever represented the other party in your case?

All good firms strive to avoid conflicts of interest and have a process for checking, but asking this question up front can save time and effort for both of you.

Is the initial consultation free?

This meeting is essentially a job interview, and as the prospective employer you should not be charged for it. On the other hand, don’t expect a full legal review or a resolution to your problem. The purpose of the meeting is for the attorney to determine whether you have a viable case, and for you to decide whether you’re talking to the right attorney. Somewhere between a half hour and an hour should be enough time to accomplish both objectives.

Is the attorney experienced in the area of law where you need help?

Attorneys can list any practice area they like in their advertising, whether they have handled 100 such cases or none. Ask directly how many cases like yours the attorney currently has, and how many he or she has handled in the past few years.

How will you be billed?

You may be charged hourly, flat or contingent fees, depending on the matter. Contingent fees apply to most personal injury cases, while billing for others may be hourly or flat. As a general rule, the simpler the matter, the more likely the fee is to be flat.

Are the firm’s resources adequate to handle your case?

No effective attorney works alone. Associates, paralegals and assistants are all critical members of the team, so make sure the attorney you’re considering has sufficient qualified personnel on board.