Seven Questions to Ask before Hiring an Attorney
No matter how desperate you are to start building your defense, there is no excuse for hiring an attorney without asking the appropriate questions and obtaining acceptable answers. In fact, the more desperate you are, the more important it is to carefully screen your attorney options. You want to find the attorney with the most experience and the deepest drive to help you out. The following seven questions will help you identify that attorney.
1. How long have you been practicing law in this state?
The laws are different in every state, so you need an attorney who is familiar with the state you are facing charges in at the moment. If you find an excellent attorney who just moved to the state, you have to wonder whether they have the knowledge needed to mount a stellar defense in this state.
2. What is your specialty, and what percentage of your cases fall within that specialty?
You are basically asking what type of case this attorney prefers to take on. If they spend most of their time defending against one type of case, for example car wrecks, and that is not the type of case you have, then you may someone else for your case. On the other hand, if you were in a car wreck and you find out the lawyer you are talking to has handled hundreds of these kinds of cases, they might be your choice for representation. Passion is what often makes the difference between a successful car wreck lawyer and a losing attorney.
3. Can you tell me about your educational experience, including your rank at graduation and all honor achievements? Are you board certified?
This question may make some attorneys nervous if they were ranked low in their graduating class or did not make it to that exclusive Law Review invitation. The answer you receive will tell you how accomplished an attorney was in school, but accomplishments after graduation on real cases will count as well. Never work with an attorney who is not board certified.
4. Have you been disciplined by the bar of any state in the past?
It is important to ask about all states in which the attorney may have practiced because some bad attorneys will hop states. A previous disciplinary action may not signal a horrible attorney, but you do want to ask for details about that situation. Previous behavior is the biggest predictor of future behavior.
5. How many jury cases have you handled, and what were the outcomes of those cases?
You can tailor this question to meet the specifics of your case. Attorneys will handle cases different when they are before a jury rather than a judge. There may be other special factors for your case that not all attorneys are qualified to handle.
6. Will you handle my case personally? If not, who else will be involved in the case?
Do not assume that the attorney you meet with initially will handle all details of your case. If the attorney works in a firm, it can be handed off to someone with less experience or a questionable history. You want to determine who will handle your case and ask them all of the questions listed here.
7. What problems or obstacles do your foresee for my case? What are your ideas for handling this case?