Need a Lawyer? Important Questions to Ask

Prior to hiring a lawyer there are several questions you should ask during a preliminary consultation. Sit down ahead of time and write down a list of questions you don’t want to forget to ask. This kind of preparation will help ensure the legal professional you need to hire will be capable of handling your case. The following are common examples of things you need to know about a lawyer in order to make an informed decision.

Qualifications, Expertise and Background Information

The first kind of information you should gather from a lawyer during your initial meeting is their qualifications, expertise and background. The types of questions you should ask include:

  • What kind of law do you practice?
  • How many cases similar to mine have you handled and with what percentage of success?
  • Do you have any real client references I can get in touch with?
  • When and from where did you graduate law school?
  • How long have you been practicing law?

The answers to these questions will clearly demonstrate whether or not the lawyer you are speaking with is capable of handling the kind of law involved in your case.

Prices and Billing

A clear understanding of a potential lawyer’s price schedule and billing practices helps you to avoid unhappy surprises once an invoice arrives. Ask the following price and billing questions:

  • Do you require an upfront payment of a retainer? If so, how much of a retainer would I be asked to pay?
  • Do you charge an hourly rate or a flat fee?
  • What do you estimate my total legal expenses will be?
  • When will I be billed and when will I need to make payment?
  • What form of payments do you accept?
  • Can I get your billing policies in writing?

A frank conversation about cost and billing practices may seem uncomfortable but asking these questions will set clear expectations prior to any work being done on your behalf.

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Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mdgovpics/6299054224/

Strategies and Practices

Most lawyers will be hesitant to divulge how they would handle your case until they receive a retainer or a signed contract ensuring payment. However, there are certain questions a potential lawyer should be asked regarding practices before you sign a retainer agreement.

  • Who will I contact with questions or concerns about my case?
  • How much of my case’s work will be done by your employees?
  • How do you prefer I contact you, such as phone or email communications?

No matter how personal your legal matter may be, hiring a lawyer to help you is still a business arrangement. Asking plenty of questions and gathering as much information as possible will illustrate whether or not a potential lawyer is the right fit for your case.

Billy is a frequent blogger on business and legal matters.  Learn more about Billy’s criminal defense practice by visiting his website today.

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