7 Questions to Ask a Lawyer Before Hiring
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been injured at work, bitten by a dog, in a road accident, or asked for a divorce. Hiring an experienced attorney is crucial! After all, legal matters are complex, making professional support an invaluable asset.
You won’t have to navigate the court process alone! As a result, the chance of a happy ending increases and you’re less likely to make expensive mistakes along the way.
But with over 1.3 million licensed lawyers operating around America today, the tricky part’s choosing one for the job! Having some questions to ask a lawyer up your sleeve is sure to help though.
Trust us, the right line of inquiry will separate the wheat from the chaff like nothing else. Sound good? Here are 7 of the best questions to ask a lawyer before you hire them.
1. What Area of Law Do You Specialize In?
The first thing to know is that not all attorneys are made equal. And not just in terms of how good they are at the job! Like doctors, they vary in the areas of law they specialize in as well.
That’s a big deal when it comes to hiring the right lawyer for your needs. After all, if you’re going through a divorce, it makes sense to hire someone who specializes in divorce and family law, right? Working with someone who’s a generalist is akin to seeing the family doctor for a specific medical condition.
Their support will be better than nothing. But going to a specialist is preferable. They’ll know the situation insight out and have all the necessary expertise to handle it.
2. How Long Have You Been a Lawyer?
Imagine someone who needs surgery for a complex medical condition. They’re given a choice of two surgeons: a veteran of the hospital who’s been qualified for a decade and a newbie fresh from medical school. Who do you think they’d pick?
The old-timer, of course.
And for good reason! The fact they’ve done the procedure countless times before suggests they know what they’re doing. Unlike the fresh-faced surgeon, your wellbeing’s in safe and experienced hands.
It’s a similar story in the legal profession. Of course, you’ll find endless examples of old and inept attorneys. Overall, though, choosing someone who’s practiced law for a decade (or more) is a good sign that your case is in good hands.
3. Have You Handled Cases Like Mine Before?
Longevity isn’t everything though. The winning combination is an experienced attorney who has handled cases like yours in the past! Let’s rewind to our previous analogy of the two surgeons.
If (for whatever reason) the fresh-faced doctor had more experience with your specific operation than the veteran, then the best bet is to choose them instead. In other words, experience-levels are irrelevant if they don’t relate to your case.
4. What’s Your Success Rate?
Imagine going to court for a crime you didn’t commit. It goes without saying that you’d need a first-class criminal defense attorney!
After you Google ‘criminal defense attorney near me’ and create a shortlist of possibilities, be sure to ask about their win percentage too. As you'd expect, it bodes well if they’ve won more cases than they’ve lost. It’s even better if they’ve won lots of cases that resemble your own.
While you’re at it, double-check they’re comfortable in the courtroom. If a litigator hasn’t spent much time at trial, then they might not be the best attorney for your needs.
5. How Much Do You Charge?
When it comes to choosing an attorney, now isn’t an ideal time for frugality. Remember, you get what you pay for in life! You can bet your bottom dollar that budget-friendly lawyers will be less effective than the most expensive ones.
That doesn’t mean you can’t find quality legal support at affordable prices. Nor does it mean you have to hire anyone who falls outside your budget. Our only suggestion is this:
If a lawyer’s rates sound too good to be true, then they probably are! We recommend striking a balance between cost and quality. Spending more than you’d anticipated could pay for itself in terms of the outcome of your case.
6. How Long Will the Legal Process Take?
This question serves two purposes:
- To gain an idea of how long you’ll be tied up in legal proceedings, and
- To make a judgment call on the attorney’s trustworthiness.
Now, it’s all-but-impossible for any lawyer (regardless of their level of experience and skill) to tell you exactly how long it’ll take to handle your case. Any suggestion they make will be a rough estimate.
That’s better than nothing when it comes to planning your schedule! Yet it’ll also tell you something of the attorney’s integrity and transparency. The best lawyers, like the best salespeople, will never try to mislead you with attractive time-frames.
They’ll be honest, open, and explain the reality of whatever’s to come.
7. What Do You Think the Outcome of My Case Will Be?
It’s natural to want an idea of a) how your case will unfold and b) what the outcome will be. Once again, though, it’s impossible for any attorney to know for sure! The best you can hope for is an honest idea of what’s around the corner.
Be wary of anyone who guarantees a win. Chances are high that they’re simply telling you what you want to hear in a bid to land a new client! Attorneys with integrity tend to be more cautious with their predictions.
Remember These Questions to Ask a Lawyer Before Hiring Them
Hiring the perfect attorney is no mean feat nowadays. There are just too many to choose from! And they all claim to have the necessary experience, qualifications, and attributes for the task.
Know the struggle? Well, we hope the key questions to ask a lawyer in this article will help. Ask them in your forthcoming interviews and it should be easier to separate the good attorneys from the bad and pick the best one from the pack.
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