When It Comes To Your Legal Matter, Become An Educated Consumer
Your relationship with your attorney shouldn't be much different from your relationship with your doctor. In either profession, you look for a provider you can trust, whose experience reflects your needs, and who has succeeded with cases like yours.
Don't rush. Meet with more than one law firm before you make a decision. During the conversation, ask get-acquainted questions like these:
"Tell me about your experience in handling cases like mine?"
Every specialty, such as personal injury or medical malpractice, requires specialized skills. Make sure the attorney concentrates on the area of law that covers your case. Be cautious with attorneys who practice across a wide range of legal areas, or who represent insurance companies.
"How often have you tried cases like mine in court?"
Most cases are settled before they go to trial, but the chances of a successful settlement often depend on the attorney's reputation as a fighter, willing to go to court. A lawyer who lacks courtroom confidence is less likely to negotiate the best results in a settlement.
"In cases like mine, what results have you had in negotiating settlements?"
Try to find out how much experience — and success — the attorney has had in negotiating settlements, especially when his clients have been people like yourself.
Other Questions To Ask
The list of questions is countless but here are a few other essential questions to ask your lawyer:
Will there be a charge for the initial conference to review my case? How much?
Will there be a retainer fee? In other words, will I have to pay you before you begin work on my case? Again, how much?
If you accept my case, will you charge a flat fee, or a percentage of the sum I win? How much would the flat fee or percentage amount to?
Who are the other members of the legal team who will help you handle my case?
Will you advance the costs (such as fees for investigators and technical experts, filing fees, and other expenses) involved in pursuing my case?
How often will you communicate with me, and how—via face-to-face meetings, phone, email?
Emotions can run high when you're fighting for your rights, but remember: taking your time in selecting an attorney will save you trouble later on.