Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Attorney
Whether you’ve never hired an attorney or you have some experience, knowing who to hire can be challenging. If you’re hiring a lawyer, you might be managing a complicated situation, and interviewing and selecting a lawyer can add another layer of complexity.
Before you get too far, make sure the attorney’s law license is valid. You can visit the American Bar Association to find links to licensing information in your state. Once you’ve checked that the attorney is licensed to practice in your state, let’s talk about some important questions to ask.
#1. What is your specific experience with this type of case?
Even if a lawyer has 20 years of litigation experience, that doesn’t mean they know the ins and outs of estate planning. Don’t just ask an attorney how long they’ve been practicing, ask how long they’ve been practicing on cases like yours.
Ask for concrete examples, specific cases, and settlement or judgment amounts. You want to ensure that the attorney you hire has extensive experience in the type of case you’re pursuing or involved in.
Take a deeper dive into their experience with some follow-up questions, which could include:
- What percentage of these cases went to trial?
- What was the outcome of those trials?
- What are some final settlement examples in those cases?
- What types of resources or outside experts do you think my case will require?
Once you have a clear picture of how the lawyer has managed similar cases, you’ll know whether you want to work with them.
#2. How is your fee agreement structured?
Before you sign anything with an attorney, you should have a complete understanding of how their fee agreement works.
Here are some possible payment structures:
Flat Fee –the lawyer charges a set rate for a specific project (this can be popular with wills). Lawyers often choose a flat rate when the project is straightforward, and they aren’t expecting any surprises or disruptions.
Hourly – the lawyer (and, in some cases, their paralegals and/or legal assistants) will charge by the hour.
Contingent Fees – The client only pays the lawyer if the case is handled successfully. If the client wins, the lawyer is compensated with a percentage of the monetary award. If the client loses, the lawyer does not receive any compensation.
Talk through your lawyer’s fee arrangement and ensure you feel comfortable and informed about your financial obligations in relation to the contract.
#3. Will you be the attorney representing me throughout the case?
Depending on the law firm’s size, sometimes attorneys share the workload, or others may do an initial client intake and then share the information with a lawyer who has the bandwidth to manage the case. These are standard practices as attorneys manage their caseload across the office, so ask upfront who will be the main point of contact on your case.
There may be additional team members – legal assistants, paralegals, administrative staff – assisting you, so ask about the rest of the team too.
Hire a Lawyer You Trust
Ultimately, it all comes down to working with someone you trust to manage your case successfully. By asking the right questions upfront, you can find a lawyer who understands your situation and is there to advocate for you.
Our team has a wide range of expertise in managing various complex cases, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.
The information contained herein is for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
“When Tim and his staff took on my case, they had hurdles created by former counsel to overcome. Even with all that was working against us, Tim and his staff used their considerable gifts and skills to successfully resolve the case.“