The legal field is a giant mystery to many people, and those hiring an attorney for the first time can be daunted by the entire process. What makes a good attorney, and what is a particular attorney is the right one to hire?
Many people are bad at asking questions in general, and asking questions related to a completely unfamiliar field only makes this worse.
That said, here are some good questions to ask an attorney you are considering hiring.
How long have you been a practicing attorney?
Experience is key, and while simply knowing the number of years that an attorney has been practicing isn’t enough to know if he or she is a good hire, it’s a good question to ask at the beginning of the questioning process. Build other questions onto it, especially the next one.
Has the state bar ever taken disciplinary action against you?
Disciplinary action is a big negative on an attorney’s record, as it can signal past malpractice or malfeasance. If an attorney has been practicing for a long time (hence the first question) and has never had disciplinary action taken against him or her, this is a very good indicator that he or she is an ethical attorney.
Do you have malpractice insurance?
Speaking of malpractice, this is absolutely a no-brainer. Any practicing attorney should have malpractice insurance. If an attorney doesn’t, this means that he or she is probably not worth your trouble.
What will happen to me when this case is done?
See how the attorney answers this question. If he or she is honest, this could be a good sign that you will get good, straight answers out of him or her. If this kind of honesty is what you want, chalk this one up in the “pro” column.
How much will I be charged?
Unfortunately, cost is always a big consideration for any normal person. It’s extremely important to get the money talk out of the way early. Figure out how much you will be charged, and perhaps more importantly, ask what you will be charged for. Will the attorney charge you for talking to you on the phone? Will you get nickeled and dimed for the tiniest excuse for service? Ask these questions and make sure the attorney is up-front with you about them.
Will you be the one actually handling the case?
Getting to know an attorney is all well and good, but there’s always the chance that he or she won’t actually be the one representing you in court. A big part of this whole process is getting to know the person who will be guiding you through this often-difficult process. If you get to know an attorney and then somebody completely different shows up on the day, the whole ordeal can be that much more stressful. Check to see who will be with you in court, and make sure you are actually getting to know the right person.
Knowing which questions to ask is often half the battle in any situation. It’s important to ask the right questions when hiring an attorney so you know who you’re hiring and who will actually be helping you out in court. Ask these questions and any others you might have and put your mind at ease.