Not all lawyers do all things. Make sure you find out what your lawyer’s specialty is before you hire
Some new lawyers may be very creative and eager, however, you may want a more seasoned veteran to handle your case. Someone with years of experience may have a better understanding of how to help.
This is especially important in a firm with several attorneys. The attorney you hire should have the time to meet with you in the office and speak with you on the phone. They should be the attorney appearing with you and for you in hearings. The attorney you hire should be the attorney who will be negotiating on your behalf, and if necessary, take your case to trial. In some firms, after your initial consultation, your case may get handed off to an lesser-skilled associate. Make sure your case is getting the attention it deserves from the attorney you hired. The last thing you want is for your case to be used as a “learning experience” for a new attorney.
Some attorneys handle certain cases on a contingency fee basis, which means they get paid if you win. Lawyers also handle some cases on an hourly basis, regardless of whether you win or lose. Lastly, some cases are handled by paying a retainer, which is a lump sum amount paid at the time you hire the attorney, which is then used to pay the attorney’s fees as he does the work on your case. Retainers are usually non-refundable.
Generally speaking, asking what your chances are is a fair question. Just remember, you aren’t looking for a “right” or “wrong” answer, just an honest one. If you are facing an uphill battle, you will want to know that up front from the attorney so you can prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Beware of attorneys that offer guarantees – there are a lot of unknowns in most cases and lawyers should never guarantee specific results. You always want your lawyer to be honest and truthful in his assessment of your case and not simply telling you what he thinks you want to hear.
A lawyer who has the right background can often save you time and money, all the while getting the best result possible. Don’t take a simple “yes” as a sufficient answer. Ask follow up questions, such as where, when and how many cases, as well as their results, to make sure the attorney really knows the subject matter.
Lawyers should always outline all possible ways to handle a case and then explain why they chose a particular strategy, including the pros and cons.
Your lawyer should give you an estimate as to how long your case should take to get a resolution. Keep in mind, however, that your attorney does not control the pace of the process and cannot make any promises about when it will be over.
You should feel comfortable from the beginning of your attorney-client relationship that you will be able to have regular communication with your attorney. Make sure you agree up front on the ways you will stay in touch. The attorney you hire should always be accessible to you.
Typically this means the lawyer will sit down with you, hear about your problem, and offer some initial thoughts about your case, at no charge or obligation to you. This meeting gives you a chance to interview the lawyer, and the lawyer a chance to interview you. In most circumstances, only the initial consultation is free.