Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Lawyer

Choosing the right lawyer to represent your case is a big decision. Not only do you want to pick the most qualified lawyer for your case, but you also want to make sure you pick the right type of lawyer for your case. Finding the right lawyer for you means more than just googling “Lawyer near me”. Here are some of the things you’ll need to consider as you select the right lawyer for your case including a list of questions to ask your lawyer.

Do You Need A Lawyer

Before you start doing research to find a lawyer for you, be sure that your case needs a lawyer. There are some situations when you can handle things on your own and others when legal assistance is necessary. Several factors in a situation that may require the assistance of a lawyer are:

  • You’re In Over Your Head: Legal situations can affect everyone differently. One person might be fine handling things with the opposing party on their own while others may feel like they’re drowning. If you’re feeling in over your head, like you can’t handle or process the information in front of you, hiring a lawyer might be a good option.
  • The Other Party Has An Attorney: If the other party involved has an attorney, it would be a bad idea to go up against them on your own unless you also have legal knowledge and expertise. Hiring a lawyer to defend yourself is almost always a good choice in this case.
  • You Could Go To Jail: If you’ve been charged with a crime, you will want someone to defend you that knows the law and can help to either get rid of or minimize your charges.
  • You Could Lose Money: If you could lose a lot of money in a lawsuit, hiring an attorney is a good option. For example, if you’re working through a divorce and have a lot of assets, working with a divorce attorney will allow you to hold on to as much of your money and assets as possible.
  • Injury Is Involved: Whether it’s bodily injury or mental injury, any case with injury involved often warrants working with a personal injury attorney. Even with health insurance, it’s advisable to at least consult with a legal entity to ensure that you should not pursue further legal action.

Remember also that lawyers can help in situations where there isn’t prosecution. Even something like writing a will could require legal help. If you’re working with multiple family members or with large assets, you may want to council with a few wills lawyers to make sure your will is done correctly. Any situation that deals with law, whether for prosecution or general life matters, can benefit from the help of a lawyer.

Finding The Right Attorney

Once you’ve decided that you need an attorney, you’ll have to decide which type is right for your case. If you’re being charged with breaking the law, you’ll likely need a criminal law attorney. If you’re going through a divorce, you’ll want a lawyer that specializes in divorce and child custody law. Compile a list of questions to ask your lawyer so you can make sure that their specialties will help you with your specific case.

Questions To Ask Your Lawyer

There are two fields of questions to ask your lawyer before you choose them to represent your case. You’ll want to know more about their experience practicing law and specifically working cases similar to yours. Once you are satisfied with their experience, you’ll need to ask them questions more specific to your case. Here are a few examples of both:

Experience

  • How Long Have You Practiced Law? : Knowing how long a lawyer has practiced can give you some insight into a few things, (1) Lawyers who have practiced longer generally have more experience and a broader understanding of the law and (2) Lawyers who have practiced longer have also seen more cases and have more knowledge of how to work with opposing parties. This is not to say that newer lawyers can’t also be great to work with. But generally speaking, a lawyer who has practiced longer will be a more valuable asset.
  • What Kind Of Cases Do You Generally Handle? : This could be one of the most important questions to ask your lawyer. You don’t want to hire a bankruptcy lawyer to handle your personal injury case. You want to find a lawyer who handles cases in the same field as yours and has recent experience with the laws surrounding your case.
  • How Many Cases Have You Handled That Are Similar To Mine? : Similar to the previous question, one of the most important questions to ask your lawyer is how many cases they have handled that are similar to yours. While you want a lawyer that practices within that field, you also want a lawyer who has handled cases with similar details to yours so they will be prepared for anything that could come up during the case and will know how to work with the opposing party.
  • What Kind Of Training Do You Have That Applies To My Case? : While all lawyers have gone through law school, some may have more specialized training that they have received which could be valuable for your case. Talk with your lawyer about what kind of training and knowledge they have that could be helpful in winning your case. For example, if you are looking to start a franchise, working with a franchise law attorney who has received further training post-law school could be more valuable than working with an attorney who has simply attended law school. The extra and more recent knowledge they’ve received will help them help you.
  • Have You Practiced In The Courthouse Where My Case Will Be? : This is one of the questions to ask your lawyer that could make a big impact on your case. Regardless of whether a lawyer has a lot of experience or not, working with a lawyer that knows the judge in the courthouse your case will be heard in can make a huge difference. They’ll have an understanding of how the judge rules and will be able to plan your case around that.

Once you’ve gone through your list of questions to ask your lawyer about their experience and are satisfied that they are skilled enough for your case, you’ll want to move onto questions that are more specific to your situation.

Case-Specific

  • What Are Your Fees And How Are They Billed? : After experience, some of the most important questions to ask your lawyer are in regards to billing and fees. Different kinds of lawyers will bill you differently and you’ll want to know upfront how it will look for your case. Some lawyers will charge a fixed amount per hour, other’s work for a “contingency fee”. A contingency fee is when the lawyer gets paid a portion of the amount you receive from winning a trial or settlement. It’s typical about a third of the total settlement. Some lawyers that work off contingency fees are workers compensation lawyers or personal injury lawyers.
  • Are There Alternatives To A Trial? : Another of the most important questions to ask your lawyer is whether or not there are any alternatives to a trial for your case. Certain types of cases are less likely to go to trial than others. For example, only about 4% to 5% of personal injury cases go to trial, which means at least 95% of them are settled before they reach that point. Settling before taking a case to trial will save all parties involved a lot of time, money, and stress.
  • What Do You Think The Outcome Of My Case Will Be? : This is what everyone wants to know, whether they will be able to win their case or not. A lawyer may not be able to give you a completely definite answer in your first meeting, it takes time and looking at the information to know what will happen with your case. However, depending on your case, they may be able to give you a fairly accurate guesstimate. For example, if you’re working with a DUI defense attorney after you’ve been charged with a DUI, they will be able to give you a good idea of what will happen with the case or what they can do to lower your sentence. Cases with more details and more parties involved are more complicated and your lawyer is less likely to have an idea of how it will end from the start.
  • How Long Do You Estimate The Case Will Take? : While you’re asking your lawyer questions about strategy and their outlook for your case, you may also want to ask how long they think the case will take. Cases take a lot of involvement and time from both the lawyer and of course, the parties involved. For example, if you’re working with a medical malpractice lawyer on a case where you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, this type of case could take longer than others due to the details and laws involved. Your lawyer can’t control how fast everything moves, but if they have handled a lot of cases similar to yours, they should have an idea of how long the process takes and what you can expect.
  • How Will We Communicate? : It’s important to know from the start by what means you and your lawyer will communicate and how often. You should feel comfortable reaching out to your lawyer with questions, but also give them time to work on the case and get new information before they reach back out to you. Make sure to talk with your lawyer about finding a good middle ground so you can have the time you need to talk with them but also give them the time they need to work. Some people make the mistake of contacting their lawyer multiple times a day and all that leads to is more unnecessary stress for both parties.
  • How Should I Be Involved Moving Forward? : Once you’ve picked a lawyer and put the case into their hands, they’ll be doing most of the heavy lifting in researching the law and contacting necessary parties. Some people feel at this point like they’re losing control in their own case and can’t do anything to help. It’s important to talk with your lawyer about what your role should be and how you can stay involved. While there are times when you can’t do much, your lawyer will need information or input from you throughout the case. Make sure to clarify what they need from you and then get it done in a timely manner. You don’t want to be the reason the case gets held up.

In Conclusion

Being involved in legal situations is stressful for anyone. The process of finding a good lawyer on top of that can be a lot to handle. This list of questions to ask your lawyer will aid in the search and give you the information you need to select a lawyer that will be qualified to help with your specific case and help you reach the settlement that you need.

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