Scheduling an initial consultation is a crucial step in the process of hiring a reliable, competent attorney. It is an opportunity to speak with them one-on-one and decide whether you’d like to hire them for your case. Here are six questions that you should be asking.
1. How Long Have You Practiced in Your Area of Law?
Experience is one of the most important factors to consider when hiring an attorney for any reason. When an attorney focuses their practice on one particular area of law, they are more likely to be comfortable and knowledgeable about all the rules and details surrounding it. Hiring a lawyer who has many years of experience means they are more likely to have seen cases similar to yours. Also, they are likely more familiar with the court system, the judges, and opposing attorneys you may face during the process.
2. How Much Do You Charge?
Find out how the attorney bills their time and services and how long they expect your case to take to get an idea of how much your legal fees will cost. But, keep in mind that the number that the attorney gives you is just an estimate based on the details that you have provided to them. While at the time of consultation they may believe your case will only last a few months, things change quickly in law and the initial estimate may end up being incorrect. It is important to taper expectations and assume the number they gave you is the minimum that it will cost, subject to an increase as the process of the case unfolds.
3. Do You Notice Anything Unique About My Case?
An experienced attorney should be able to quickly identify the challenges and opportunities your case presents. While on paper your case may look cut-and-dry and easy to work through, oftentimes situations can become complicated very quickly. A diligent attorney can see any potential detours or roadblocks a case may face and work with you to avoid or push through them.
4. How Will You Approach My Case?
Find out how the attorney will help you pursue a route that offers the best chance of a positive outcome. This is where you can really get to know your attorney and their philosophy in their area of law. Some attorneys or firms believe that trying cases in court is the best approach, while others believe that you should always strive for settlement. This is also where you can weigh whether the attorney will take a collected approach to the case or pursue it aggressively.
5. What Type of Outcome Do You Expect?
It’s not uncommon for people beginning a case to hold unrealistic expectations about how it will unfold. It is impossible for an attorney to predict the future or the exact outcome. However, they may offer you a picture of what an ideal outcome, an acceptable outcome, or what an undesirable outcome would look like.
6. What Else Could Result from My Case?
Often, legal cases can evolve into many other issues related to the initial area of law. Attorneys are well-equipped to handle all layers and aspects of their area of law, so it is worth asking if they could also assist you with these matters. This would save you the time and effort of finding another attorney to handle the issues that may arise from your case in the future.