Preparing for a Consultation With a Lawyer
If you need an attorney during a legal trial, you must make sure you find the right one. The good news is that most lawyers will offer a consultation for free so you can go and meet them. When you go to this meeting, you want to make sure that you have the ideal questions in your head to help you determine if the person will work. While you shouldn’t expect any legal advice, you can expect to find some crucial information about the lawyer.
Find a Good Candidate
Before you even think about setting up a consultation, you must find someone you think will work for you. Look for someone who specializes in your needs. You can often look on your state bar’s website for a list of lawyers and what they specialize in. If you know a lawyer you liked for another case, you may be able to ask them for recommendations. Similarly, friends and family can likely give you some names.
Ask for Their Background
When you start a consultation with a candidate, experts such as Douglas Healy say that your primary focus should be figuring out the candidate’s background. While you may feel that you are out of line asking for their resume, keep in mind that you are about to pay them your hard-earned cash for their services. You wouldn’t hire a plumber to do your electrician, so ask a lawyer about their experience and specialties before hiring them. Often, you can uncover the basics of their past on their website before your meeting. Then, you will be able to flush out the details during your consultation. For instance, you can ask them exactly how many divorce cases they have satisfactorily handled before hiring a divorce lawyer. Keep in mind that a lawyer with experience on only two similar cases may not be the best option.
Aside from this, ask them how long they have practiced law in your area. This is much more helpful than knowing obscure details, like where they got their degree because it helps you identify if they are familiar with the local officials and processes. Also, ask about similar cases in your area. Make sure you understand the verdicts they tend to receive when handling cases like yours.
Figure Out Their Legal Strategy
The next step is to determine how they will get you your justice. Get the details on their plans and procedures. Ask the projected timeline for resolving your case. Discuss their legal strategy for handling your case. See if they plan on settling and if arbitration or mediation are options. Make sure the answers you receive work with your plans. For instance, think about whether you are ready to settle or go to court and if the lawyer is matching up with what you want. Your lawyer’s strategy and your needs must line up.
Determine if You Can Work With Them
Another important thing to think about is how your case will be managed and who you are going to work with. Large firms have other attorneys who do the work, not the initial person you met with. Paralegals and assistants are in charge of doing paperwork, and you may even have to contact someone else about your case.
Additionally, establish the frequency you should expect to communicate with the actual lawyer. For instance, figure out how long it will take them to answer your email or phone call if you have a question. Determine if they will provide regular updates. Ask about their emergency contact procedures for after-hour developments. Consider their preferred method of contact and information exchange.
Aside from this, you should look around the office and figure out if you honestly think you can work with this person. If friendliness is a factor, make sure they meet that. Think about whether they are patient with you and answer all of your questions. You want to feel like you and your case are important. Otherwise, you may need to go somewhere else.
Calculate the Costs
The final thing you should consider is cost. Legal fees are often complicated, so you must understand their pay system during the consultation. Most attorneys charge a fee upfront. As they work on the case, they bill their hourly rate and take it from this fee. When the case is over, you will owe anything that is not covered by the initial fee. Also, make sure you find out the rates for anyone else who may end up working on your case.
While a consultation with an attorney will not give you a lot of legal advice, it will give you the information you need to determine if a lawyer is right for you. Use this consultation to answer key questions and determine if a candidate will meet your needs.