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Interviewing a Lawyer

Finding a good lawyer to help with your legal issue can be challenging. The first question is where to start.

How To Find the Right Lawyer for Your Case

One good source is friends or family who know of lawyers in your area. But they may not know if the lawyer handles the type of legal matter you have.

Another good place to start is your state or local bar association. The bar association typically has a lawyer referral service to help connect people to the type of lawyer who can help them. Lawyers typically focus on certain practice areas, so make sure to ask for one who is familiar with the type of case you have. A lawyer who practices personal injury law may not be a good fit for a family law case.

The First Time You Meet a Potential Lawyer

Once you have identified a handful of lawyers who might suit your needs, you should set up an initial consultation so that you can ask some preliminary questions. That first meeting will allow you to meet the lawyer and see if you think you will work well together.

To help you choose a lawyer, it might also be a good idea to write down any answers you get so you can compare lawyers after you finish your interview process. Remember, you will need to be able to work closely with your attorney and share sensitive information with them, so you need to feel good about your choice. Make sure you bring any important documents and other information with you to the meeting.

What Questions Should You Ask?

Some interview questions you might ask at the first meeting include:

  • Does the lawyer provide a free consultation? If the lawyer charges for an initial interview, how much does it cost? How long is the initial interview or consultation? Are they currently accepting new clients?
  • What type of fee arrangement does the lawyer require? Is it a flat fee, which is typical for drafting a will or handling a traffic ticket? Or is it a contingency fee, which is typical for a personal injury case and means the lawyer doesn't get paid until the case is resolved? Or is it a case with a retainer and an hourly rate where you pay based on the work done by the lawyer and their staff? Can you negotiate the fees? More information about attorney's fees and costs may help you ask more questions on this topic.
  • What areas of the law does the lawyer have experience in? What percentage of the lawyer's cases are similar to yours? When was the last time the lawyer handled a similar legal problem?
  • How long has the lawyer been in practice? Where is the lawyer licensed to practice? Has the lawyer been investigated or disciplined before by state licensing authorities? If so, for what?
  • Can the lawyer provide references from other clients for the legal work they performed on their behalf?
  • If the lawyer cannot handle your case, can the lawyer provide references to other lawyers?
  • What is the range of possible outcomes for your case, including rough time and cost estimates? Based on your brief description of the problem, your lawyer may be able to provide some general estimates but will not commit to a firm amount of time or cost.
  • Will the lawyer handle the case, or will others also work on it, such as a paralegal or associate?
  • What type of caseload does the lawyer currently have? What is the scope of the lawyer's existing commitments? Will the lawyer have sufficient time to devote to your case? What is their typical time frame to return a phone call or follow up with an email?

Your first meeting and interview with a lawyer can be crucial in deciding if they are the right person to give you legal advice for your case. Make sure to ask all your questions about their legal services, including the cost, so that you can feel comfortable that you have the best legal representation for your case. See Guide to Hiring a Lawyer - FindLaw if you need more information on this important issue.

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