Once you have identified a handful of lawyers who might suit your needs (perhaps they are in your neighborhood, or specialize in a certain type of case), you may be able to set up an initial consultation on the telephone so that you can ask some preliminary questions before you commit yourself to a formal, in-person interview. Ideally, the answers you get will help you screen candidates until you have only a few lawyers to interview. To help you choose a lawyer, it might also be a good idea to write down any answers you get. You can compare the answers to help you choose the lawyer(s) you would like to interview.
Some initial questions you might ask 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?
- What type of fee arrangement does the lawyer require? Can you negotiate the fees? Additional information about legal fees and costs may help you ask additional questions on this topic.
- Has the lawyer handled similar cases? What percentage of the lawyer's cases are similar to yours? When was the last time the lawyer handled a similar case?
- 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?
- If the lawyer cannot handle your case, can the lawyer provide references to other lawyers?
- What type of information should you bring to a meeting with the lawyer?
- What is the range of possible outcomes for your case, including rough estimates of time and cost? Based on your brief description of the problem, your lawyer may be able to provide some general estimates.
- Will the lawyer handle the case or will others work on it also?
- 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?
If you are able to narrow down your choices, you should be able to make an appointment with a lawyer to discuss the case in detail. During the initial interview you will likely be asked about the specifics of your case. In order to prepare for the meeting, you should gather all the information (documents, contact information) pertinent too your situation. You will want to bring those materials, along with a set of questions about the legal relationship you may have to the meeting.