7 Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Attorney
According to the American Bar Association, there have been around 1.3 million lawyers practicing in the U.S. for the last decade. Clearly, there are plenty of fish in the sea. But finding the right attorney for your needs can be a daunting task, particularly if you’re inexperienced with legal matters. Keep reading to learn the seven most important questions to ask before you hire an attorney.
Preparing To Hire an Attorney
Before you start looking, the best thing you can do is to research your situation. Start by looking up the specifics of your circumstances online and speak with friends and family about your needs.
From there, you can start your search for legal help. The main thing to remember is this:
You’re not only asking questions of your attorney.
You’re asking questions of yourself. And to help determine whether you need a lawyer, you’ll find additional reading on accident lawyers here.
Finally, try and gather all relevant documents and information related to your legal matter before you start speaking to attorneys. This can include:
- Insurance documents
- Written agreements
- Written communications
- Bank statements
Having this at the ready will help an attorney better understand your situation. Their assessment of your case is likely to be more accurate, and you will have a better picture of whether or not they’re a good fit.
Question #1: What Is My Legal Issue?
The first question is directed at yourself.
It may seem obvious, but it’s essential to clarify what sort of legal assistance you need. Do you need help with a criminal matter, a civil lawsuit, or a family law issue?
Understanding the type of lawyer you need can start with a simple phone call or a trip to the library. A quick read-up online can paint you a picture of cases similar to yours, letting you know how long you’re likely to be tied up in legal proceedings and how much the whole ordeal will cost you.
Once you have a clear understanding of your issue, you can start looking at attorneys who specialize in that area of law.
Question #2: How Much Experience Does the Attorney Have?
Experience is crucial when hiring attorneys, but it’s a double-edged sword.
Ideally, you want somebody who has experience in handling cases such as yours and a track record of success. However, lawyers adapt their fees for their legal services as they advance through their careers. Lawyers who have been practicing for longer, with more experience under their belt, are at liberty to inflate their prices, costing their clients more.
Ask any potential lawyers (or their paralegals) about their success rate and any high-profile cases they have worked on in the past.
Question #3: What Can I Afford To Pay?
You’re no doubt aware that hiring an attorney isn’t a cheap affair. That’s why it’s essential that you set a budget in advance.
You should be upfront with any potential attorney about what you can – and can’t – afford. Make sure you ask about fees and how they plan to bill you for their time.
Different types of cases will have different payment structures.
Some attorneys charge by the hour, while others charge a flat fee. Inquire about additional costs that might arise so that you aren’t taken by surprise. Such costs might include one-off fees for obtaining or filling court documents, additional fees for expert analyses, and fees taken out of any settlements you are paid when you win.
Question #4: How Will the Attorney Communicate?
Communication is key in legal matters. It’s how you know where you stand and, in some cases, whether to pull the plug.
Ask your attorney how they plan on keeping you up to date throughout your case. Do they intend to call, email, or check in with you regularly? How quickly will they respond to any inquiries you might have along the way?
Be certain that you feel comfortable before proceeding further. The last thing you want is to be left in the dark when you’re paying for proceedings and unsure of the outcome.
Question #5: Does the Attorney Have a Strategy in Mind?
Ask whether a potential attorney has a particular strategy in mind for your case. Depending on the evidence available and the strength of your situation, they might hone in on a winning strategy that has worked for them before in the past.
Remember to inquire about all potential outcomes should you decide to hire them, and ask them to be upfront about the likelihood of you winning should your case end up in court.
Question #6: Does the Attorney Have Enough Time for My Case?
It’s essential to know whether your attorney has enough time free to devote to you. Many attorneys work multiple cases at once, so ask them about their current workload and how many hours in the week you can reasonably expect them to work for you.
This will also help to give you an idea of how much the affair will cost you if – for whatever reason – the attorney isn’t upfront about their fee.
You want an attorney who can give your case the attention it deserves – it’s your money and reputation that are at stake.
Question #7: Do I Need a Specialist?
Finally, ask the attorney whether you need a specialist.
Some legal issues require specialized knowledge, such as tax or intellectual property law. The best attorney you can hire is one who works only the sort of cases you are presenting them with – and not one who practices in a variety of areas of law.
Find the Best Attorney for You
When you hire an attorney, you put your fate in the hands of a professional. By asking the right questions, you can narrow down your search and find the best attorney for your needs to ensure your case is resolved to your satisfaction.
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