Shake hands with the long arm of the law! More than 830,000 Americans work as professional lawyers, and the industry will grow by 10% between 2021 and 2031.
This may make it seem like you have a lot of choices for hiring a lawyer. But many lawyers are inexperienced and unprofessional. In order for you to find the best legal help, you need to meet with lawyers and ask them several questions.
How can you assess your lawyer’s experience and qualifications? How can you control your expenses? What should you do once you find the best lawyer for your case?
Get the facts and you can get everything you need out of your legal case in no time. Here are seven questions you must ask any attorney.
1. What Is Your Speciality?
Most lawyers specialize in a specific part of the law. If you were injured in a truck accident, you want to hire a personal injury attorney instead of a civil rights or entertainment lawyer. Visit their website and make sure they have a page for truck accident attorney cases so you know they have experience.
However, there are specialties within categories of law you need to examine. A personal injury attorney may specialize in head injuries or traffic accidents. You want to find a lawyer with the specialty that relates the most to your case.
2. What Is Your Experience?
A lawyer should have years of experience in their specialty. Some lawyers switch specialties or delay selecting what type of law they want to pursue. Go with an attorney with the most experience in your specialty, even if they have less overall experience than others.
Some lawyers have experience working in private practices while others work with major law firms. It’s okay to hire either lawyer, but you may want to ask their coworkers if they are good for the job. Lawyers in large practices may not be able to offer you the customer service you need.
Some lawyers start their practices after being prosecutors or government attorneys. These lawyers can use their knowledge of the opposing side to build a stronger case for you, so try to find an attorney with this kind of experience.
3. What Examples of Previous Cases Have You Been Involved In?
The best lawyer will have a track record with cases similar to yours. They should go into detail about cases they’ve argued and give you references from past clients.
Do not take the lawyer’s word for it. Research these cases and see if your lawyer won them. If they lied about the cases, you should not hire them.
It’s okay if your lawyer discusses cases in which they lost. The key is that they talk about the mistakes they made and explain the steps they are taking to address them.
4. What Is Your Opinion on My Case?
When you meet with an attorney, you should come with documents about your case. They should look them over and give you their thoughts on how strong your case is and what arguments they would use to defend you.
If you are facing criminal charges, your lawyer may advise you to pursue a plea deal. This is a common practice, and many lawyers have experience in negotiating deals. Don’t reject your attorney if they encourage you to make a deal, but have a conversation with them about what it would entail.
Some attorneys may not be willing to take your case. You can continue to find a lawyer, though you may want to spend some time gathering more evidence for yourself.
5. How Much Do You Charge?
Many lawyers charge hourly rates. Rates vary depending on your attorney and your case, but you may need to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars per hour.
A flat rate is common for predictable cases and common services like writing a will. Some services may not be covered under the flat rate, so ask follow-up questions about what is or is not covered.
A contingent fee is based on the outcome of the case. If you lose, your lawyer will not receive any money. If you win, they will receive part of the settlement or judgment.
In short-term cases, an hourly or a flat rate works best. For a long-term case with an uncertain outcome, you may want a lawyer with a contingent fee. The best way to control your expenses is to ask for an estimate so you can make a budget.
6. Who Else Would Work on the Case?
It’s standard for a lawyer to use paralegals, junior attorneys, and other professionals for a case. However, you may need to pay for these professionals, which can drive your costs up. When you ask for a cost estimate, ask them if you are paying for them and what their rates are like.
You should also understand who to contact if you have questions about your case. Some lawyers will answer your call while others have personal assistants or customer service representatives.
7. What Are the Next Steps?
If you’re sure that the lawyer you’re meeting with is the right one for you, you should get started on your case right away. Ask them what else they need from you and arrange another meeting with them and their team.
Your lawyer should offer you a contract outlining their services and policies. Read it over before signing it and ask about anything that seems confusing to you.
Start Hiring a Lawyer the Right Way
Hiring a lawyer is easy once you know the right questions to ask them. Ask your attorney about their specialty and experience with cases similar to yours. You should also show them documents about your case and get their interpretation of them.
Inquire about the cost of your attorney’s services. If your lawyer seems like a good fit, you should figure out how you can contact them and get your case underway.
The more informed you are about finding a lawyer, the better a lawyer you can find. Read more guides on hiring an attorney by following our coverage.