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A Few Important Questions to Ask your Potential Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer should be done with all the care and intuition you would apply to your selection of a spouse, indeed your lawyer will be privy to many intimate aspects of your life and having a confidant that you feel comfortable with is essential to a productive attorney/client relationship.
In the interests of expediting this “getting to know each other” phase, clients can ask some very specific questions that will determine how compatible the is relationship is going to be. these should be broached in the first consultations as they will determine the need for future encounters.
What is your experience handling the particulars of my case?
The term “lawyer” can cover many different professions and specific areas of study, if you are seeking corporate representation a criminal lawyer may not offer you the best solutions. Specific issues like divorce settlements, DUI charges and franchise agreements each require a specific set of skills and procedures as well as extensive experience to present a successful case.
Be sure to ask for the names and numbers of previous clients this lawyer has assisted so you can verify some history of victory. Of course a lawyer is not obligated to provide this information, but if a lawyer cannot produce any proof of success in your circumstance, you might want to go with the next guy on your list.
What are your Practices in Conflict Resolution?
You and your attorney must share the same definition of “best practices” when it comes to conflict resolution. Certain lawyers prefer to resolve a conflict through mediation and producing a settlement while others are more “litigious” and prefer to reach a solution in front of a judge. Both practices have specific advantages and disadvantages that should be considered.
Who else will be handling my case?
Most lawyers operate in a firm or count on the support of paralegals, this is pretty regular. You should be cautious of the lawyer who delegates large amounts of their work to their paralegals. There are many slip ups and possibility for error as stories are told and retold, instruction s are interpreted and misinterpreted and this process can cost you considerable time money and even the case, if your opposition happens to be running a tight ship.
Are there any Conflicts of Interest I should be aware of?
Ask your lawyer about any clients, former or current, that might pose a conflict for him professionally. This may cause some serious hiccoughs for the litigation process if not detected early in the “courtship” process. You may even let some sensitive information slip that could land you in a world of puppy doo. Better ask this question early in the interview.
How often will we be in touch and how?
You may have a situation that requires you be in constant communication or you may have a lawyer you speak with once or twice in a year and that’s OK. The important thing will be to make sure your lawyer is accessible when you need them. Many lawyers prefer to communicate via email or through their secretaries or a paralegal assigned to your case.
How will I be billed for this Representation?
It would be a good idea to avoid all surprises and ask up front how they work out payment. Especially if it is your first time seeking representation you may want to ask around and see what payment plans are available and make a more enlightened decision afterwards.
Other lawyers may not have certain bills and may include others so be sure to shop around before you jump in bed with the first smooth talking “Winner” you meet.
Is their anyway to Slash the costs of my Legal Expenses?
Don’t be shy about asking for some reduction in your legal fees, a qualified lawyer is waiting for you to ask so that you can discuss certain expenses that might be superfluous to the case. Then you can begin to mitigate these costs according to what you both consider best for your case.
A lawyer who is reluctant to look into way to cut back on expenses may not be in the best position to give you the representation your need for a victory. Some things you could do is draw up a list projected legal junctions you foresee and ask your attorney if you missed anything and if they have ideas for lowered costs.
Do you belong to any BAR associations?
You will need an attorney who endeavors to keep themselves updated with the most current adjustments being made in the field he practices. Lawyers of this caliber are quite prestigious and are usually a member of a bar association, advisory board or some other association.
A membership like this tells you that this is a lawyer who is pushing beyond and that is a good sign in an attorney. The problem with the “hermit” style lawyer is that although their expertise and knowledge may be above average, their time out of the loop blinds them to certain vital opportunities that up-to-date lawyers will exploit to your advantage.
Do you refer to your colleagues on matters beyond your ken?
You need to know if you have a lawyer who will seek other attorneys on any particulars that are not in his field of expertise. This may be a tough call for certain insecure lawyers who believe their worth as an individual comes from being a know-it-all, a wiser attorney will understand the importance of providing a favorable outcome and will do what it takes to accomplish this.