With a little preparation on your end, you will have a clear idea of what you are looking for when hiring an attorney. We have some suggestions for you:
When you meet for the first time, you each are “sizing up” the other. Be realistic about this basic human exchange. Do they seem approachable to you? Are they on time? If not, why not? Do they have a professional demeanor? Are they giving you thoughtful answers? Do they seem vague and disinterested? Do they seem organized?
Let the attorney lead the legal consultation, allowing them to focus and organize relevant details. If it’s an online meeting, approach it thoughtfully. Secure a quiet place that is free from distractions.
Tip: This is a confidential meeting. Be cautious about third parties possibly being unintentionally included.
Do they respect the legal system and entities/others within it? Your matter may benefit from an attorney with a good reputation within the local legal community. Often, matters can be settled quickly with such an advocate.
Your Story To Tell
This is your chance to interest the attorney in taking your case. Prepare your own “cheat sheet” for your use during the consultation. Know the timeline of events. Have the full names of other parties, along with contact information and details. If medical treatment is involved, have a brief overview of the diagnosis and timelines. While your stack of documents is important, it doesn’t paint a picture of why you need representation. If you do leave paperwork with the attorney, ask them to keep copies. If you leave originals, have them make a copy for you.
Communication Is Key
How this attorney communicates is crucial to your satisfaction: Who in your firm will manage my case/interact with me? Do you take phone calls, or do I need to schedule my calls with you? Do we exchange documents via email, or do you have a client drive that I can access? Who in your office handles billing and collection of fees/retainers?
Tip: Make sure the attorney provides you with a fee agreement, and that they fully explain it to you. The fee agreement guides the finances of your case, but also the expectations of each of you in this matter.
Real World Outcomes
Many legal matters do not end up in court. Ask the attorney about the need for court/administrative involvement. During your consultation, you are looking for indicators of honesty and transparency. Ask about any alternatives that may be available, like arbitration or mediation. The attorney should be comfortable discussing strategies and outcomes. An attorney who is upfront with you about their lack of experience in a matter may still be a good fit for you if they are willing to research and pursue your case.
Tip: If you hire an attorney, ask them what happens next.
We encourage potential clients to seek several legal consultations when deciding who will represent them. If you need a consultation, please feel free to contact our office to schedule your appointment.