Are you facing a lawsuit for the first time in your life?
It can be a scary experience. So you want to be sure you have a great lawyer on your side.
But if you’ve never done this before, it can be tough to know the questions to ask an attorney.
No need to worry. We’ll take a look at ten of the most important questions you should ask here.
1. How Much Experience Do You Have in My Area of Need?
By the time you get to the point where you’re asking attorneys questions, we’re going to assume you’ve already checked their credentials and know that they’re legit.
Of course, the amount of experience they have is important. What’s just as crucial to know is the kind of experience.
For instance, if you’re dealing with a criminal case, you want a lawyer from a reputable place like The Law Firm of Andrea M. Kolski that has a proven track record in handling projects like yours and getting positive outcomes.
Be sure to ask whom they’ve represented in the past as former clients, as well as where and when.
2. What Is Your Payment Structure?
There’s no point in setting your sights on an attorney you simply cannot afford.
So if you’ve come across a potential attorney you think might be a good match, be sure to ask about the fees and costs. How will they bill you? What are their payment options?
Also, if any work is going to be handled by paralegals or legal assistants, will the costs be reduced?
It’s completely reasonable and acceptable to ask these questions.
3. Who Is Your Typical Client?
This question is not asked as much as it should be.
Knowing the typical client the attorney serves provides insight into whether you’d be a good fit.
For example, if the attorney you’re interested in serves primarily corporations and large businesses, then it’s probably not a match.
Or if you’ve got your sights set on a big shot lawyer who works with the rich and famous, then it’s unlikely you’ll get the attention you need. Plus, you may not be able to afford him or her.
4. Do You Practice in the Courthouse Where I Will Be Tried?
This is a critical question because you want an attorney who has experience with and knows, to some extent, the judges who will be seeing your case.
Furthermore, if you’re accused of a crime, it’s important that your lawyer knows the local prosecutors.
Having home-court advantage can increase your lawyer’s ability to evaluate the likely outcomes in your case and give you truly reliable advice.
5. Do I Have to Go to Trial?
A good lawyer will always review with their clients the possibility of negotiating a deal or resolution in order to avoid a trial.
If you’ve got a civil case, your lawyer may propose mediation. This is a settlement negotiation that involves a neutral third party.
In a criminal matter, he or she may be able to get a good plea bargain.
If arbitration is an option, he or she may recommend that. Using a private service to settle a dispute can be not only less expensive, but it is typically faster too.
6. Are There Any Conflicts of Interest?
There could be a situation in which the attorney you’re considering would benefit from helping your counterparty.
A simple example would be that if you are getting sued by a company that your attorney happened to represent in the past, that could make him or her reluctant to fight on your behalf.
Attorneys are, by law, responsible for divulging these potential conflicts of interest. Still, it never hurts to inquire. If you find out only upon asking, you’ll know you dodged a bullet.
7. Have You Ever Been Accused of or Sanctioned for Attorney Misconduct?
This information is often easy enough to find online through your state’s legal licensing authority.
It’s still a good idea to ask though.
If it is the case that he or she has, you’re entitled to an explanation of the circumstances, as well as the outcomes of them.
8. What Would Be Your Approach to My Case?
This is important to understand because you want to be on the same page with your attorney throughout the trial. And they want the same thing.
For instance, if you’re involved in a fairly amicable divorce, then there’s no need to get an attorney who has a reputation for going straight for the jugular.
On the other side of that coin, you might be looking for an aggressive attorney to handle something like a big-time corporate merger. In that case, you’ll want the lawyer that goes for the jugular.
9. What Is the Best Way to Communication with You?
You’re going to be communicating with your attorney on a regular basis. But your favored form of communication may not be your lawyer’s.
So if you tend to feel more connected when speaking on the phone, but the lawyer you’re considering is more of an email communicator, then you’re going to be frustrated.
Not only will you feel less connected, but that impaired communication can be damaging if important details slip through the cracks.
To ensure that you keep those lines of communication open, be sure you and your attorney agree on just HOW you’ll communicate.
10. What Is the Likely Outcome in My Case?
You want to know if you have a good chance of winning your case. So it’s fair game to ask the attorney whether he or she believes you have that chance.
A respectable lawyer will not give you the answer you want, but rather an honest answer.
This, in turn, will allow you to prepare yourself for what you will potentially face.
Now You Know Which Questions to Ask an Attorney
It always pays to be prepared.
Knowing the best questions to ask an attorney could be the difference between you winning or losing your case.
So head into the law office armed with those questions.
And for more great articles on navigating the many facets of life, keep checking back with us!