Retaining a lawyer is a beneficial relationship for all involved — it provides you with a professional representative, law expert and researcher throughout your case, and it provides your lawyer with steady paid employment. However, even a great lawyer and a great client can sometimes make a disastrous combination.
To ensure that a lawyer is the right one for you, be sure to ask these important questions before you agree to retain them.
- “How many years have you specialized in this kind of case?” If you are hiring a specialty lawyer for a particular type of case, the idea is to get somebody with enough experience to count. Look for someone with at least three to five years in their particular law specialty.
- “What are the possible ways that this case could end if I choose to pursue it?” This might seem like a consultation type of question that you shouldn’t ask someone you haven’t even hired yet, but consider your side. If pursuing the issue will only result in situations you won’t be happy with, you may decide not to pursue it at all, and that means you don’t need to retain the lawyer.
- “Do you charge by the hour or have a flat rate? How much is your rate?” A flat rate is preferable, because then you can be more certain of how much you’ll end up paying total. Hourly rates could balloon if the case ends up taking much more research than expected.
- “How long do you estimate it will take to resolve this matter?” This is especially important to know if you want a swift conclusion to your case, or if you are paying at an hourly rate.
You might also want to ask the lawyer about how some of their past cases were solved, especially ones similar to yours, to see if their style matches your case. Above all, you want a lawyer who will work with you to resolve your legal matter the way you aim to resolve it.