So, you may have recently found yourself in a situation where you need a lawyer. Maybe you have just been arrested, maybe you have decided on a divorce, or maybe you have issues related to immigration or a personal injury. No matter the reason, legal matters are never easy to deal with. That is why it is helpful to work with an experienced attorney who works in your area and is well-respected.
In addition, no matter how good of a reputation the attorney may have, you need to make sure that you are comfortable with the attorney. You will most likely be working very closely with this person and the process will only be that much more difficult if you are uneasy with your attorney.
In order to hire the right attorney for you and your needs, there are a handful of questions that you should ask him or her at an initial consultation, before you have officially hired that attorney.
(1) What type of cases do you typically handle? In addition, ask how much of the attorney's practice is actually devoted to your specific issue. It is important that the attorney has experience and background in the area of law that your case fall within.
(2) Who is your average client? Some attorneys may have experience in the area of law that you care about, but he or she may deal exclusively with big business, not individual people. This is an important factor that you should discuss with the attorney.
(3) How long have you been practicing law? Every client is different and every case is different. For some clients, they may prefer an attorney who has decades of experience and specializes in one, specific area of law. While others may feel confident in an attorney who has just recently been licensed.
(4) Other than a law degree, what other special training have you had that would be helpful in my case? This is a really great question to ask, especially for certain situations. For example, a family attorney who specializes in child custody may attend seminars or other events that keep him or her educated and up-to-date on current practices. In some areas, there are opportunities for attorneys to have a certified specialty. This is often true in the area of DUI.
(5) What are your fees and how would I be billed? It is important for both you, as the client, and the attorney, to ensure there is an understanding regarding fees. While it can sometimes be an uncomfortable thing to talk about, it is necessary.
(6) What are my legal options regarding my issue? It is not uncommon to think that the only way to fix the problem is by going to court. This is untrue. In fact, most cases are solved outside of the courtroom. Settlements can be made between parties or there may be an opportunity for mediation or arbitration. These other options can be quite effective and efficient. This is a good topic to bring up.
(7) If I hire you, how will you keep me informed on my case? It is helpful have a clear view of this before hiring the attorney. There are some attorneys out there that are difficult to get a hold of and are not all that quick to return a phone call. You want to make sure you hire an attorney who understands that this process is new to you and will need to be updated on a regular basis.
(8) What do you think the outcome of my case will be? Of course, no one can be sure on what exactly will happen when a legal cause of action begins, but it is likely that the attorney will have some insight about what will occur. This is especially true if the attorney specializes in that certain area of law and has a lot of experience. You have every right to ask your attorney whether he or she thinks you have a good chance of winning your case.
This is an important question for a variety of reasons. Of course, you want to know that you have a chance at winning your case before you invest a lot of time and money into the cause. But, how the attorney responds to the question will also give you some insight. For example, you do not want an attorney who gives you a false sense of security. It is very rare that a case is simple, or can be described as “open and shut.” You will want to have a very clear understanding of what may lie ahead and what hurdles may come up during the process. (See our article, Four Reasons not to Use a Nevada Public Defender.)