Questions to Ask before Hiring a Lawyer

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 What Should I Ask When I Am Looking for a Lawyer?

If an individual is considering hiring a lawyer, there are many important preliminary questions you should ask. If an individual knows what to look for in an attorney, it can make a positive difference in the type of legal services they receive.

There are numerous factors that are important when selecting an attorney that an individual should consider, including:

  • Licensing: An attorney should hold a current and valid license with their state bar association;
    • Some attorneys may be licensed to practice in more than one state;
  • Practice area concentrations: Some lawyers concentrate their practices in very specific fields;
    • Hiring a specific type of attorney may be necessary if an individual has certain legal questions or issues;
  • Track record: An individual may wish to investigate an attorney’s history of performance in cases that are similar to theirs; and
  • Fees: Lawyers may charge fees in different ways from one another;
    • For example, one lawyer might apply a flat rate, while another may use a contingency fee based on the amount of damages awarded.

An individual should consider their own situation as well as their own legal needs when selecting an attorney. For example, if they have been in a motor vehicle accident, they will want to select a personal injury attorney who has experience in handling cases involving automobile accidents.

There are also other aspects that an individual may want to consider, including:

  • The attorney’s track record or performance in court;
  • How long the attorney has been practicing law;
  • Whether or not the lawyer has been disciplined for ethical or professional infractions.

In general, an individual’s choice of attorney will be determined, for the most part, by the current legal demands and the issue they need to resolve. For example, if an individual has a criminal law issue, they will require a criminal lawyer.

If, however, they are facing immigration issues, such as removal or deportation, they may require the services of a lawyer who is experienced in both criminal and immigration law.

How Do You Know What Type of Lawyer You Need?

Choosing an attorney can feel like an overwhelming task. There are many different types of lawyers that handle many different types of cases, and in some situations, practice areas may overlap.

The majority of attorneys have handled a wide range of issues and will be able to help with an individual’s case. If they cannot, or do not regularly handle that type of case, they will most likely provide a reference to a lawyer who does.

Typically, the phrase practicing law refers to numerous activities, including:

  • Drafting legal papers;
  • Representing clients in court;
  • Offering legal advice to clients.

A lawyer can provide their client with a wide range of services and handle many different subjects and issues. If an individual is simply overwhelmed, they can always contact a lawyer, and most likely, that lawyer will be willing to advise them on what practice area they will need.

Education and Experience

It is important to hire a lawyer who has experience handling cases that are similar to the individual’s current case. It is important to ask the lawyer whether they have relevant and recent practice experience in that area of law.

In addition, a potential client may want to ask about the attorney’s legal education. Some lawyers have additional training, degrees, or certificates in areas such as tax law.

Professional History

It is also important to ask questions regarding the attorney’s professional history. A potential client should ask the attorney if they have ever been involved in a fee dispute.

Another important question is whether the attorney has ever been sued for malpractice and how the lawsuit was resolved. A potential client should ask if the attorney has ever been subject to a disciplinary action by their state bar.

If they answer yes, the potential client should inquire about the nature of the disciplinary proceeding as well as the outcome. The attorney may not be willing to answer these questions, or the individual does not want to ask. If this is the case, the information can often be found on the state bar website.

What Should I Avoid When Looking for an Attorney?

There are certain factors an individual should avoid when they are looking for a lawyer, which may include:

  • Violations: An individual does not want to hire a lawyer who is currently on probation or has been suspended due to a professional responsibility or ethics violation;
  • Conflicts of interest: Professional responsibility laws prohibit lawyers from taking on cases where they have a conflict of interest with their client;
  • Personal involvement: Most state laws prohibit attorneys from getting personally involved with their clients while representing them.

What if I Disagree With an Attorney?

Choosing an attorney who best represents an individual in court will help them reduce disputes that may arise. This can be done by asking the questions discussed above as well as others.

For example, an individual should ask the attorney if they have any personal preferences or ideas that may arise during the lawsuit that may contradict the potential client’s. If an individual has a conflict of interest or a disagreement with their lawyer during a trial, they may be able to fire them and hire a new lawyer.

An attorney may also recuse themselves from a case if there are conflicts between themselves and their client. It is important to note, however, that the individual will need to find new representation, which may cause delays, additional expenses, and other complications during the trial.

What Are Ethics Violations?

An ethics violation may arise when an attorney’s conduct falls below the standards for the legal professional in their area of practice. For example, one of the more common ethics violations that occur include situations where a lawyer appropriates funds from their client for their own use.

Another common example of an ethics violation is when an attorney violates the client’s privacy by disclosing confidential information to a third party that the client told them. If a lawyer commits an ethics violation, it may be necessary for an individual to find a new attorney to replace their previous one, which may lead to delays.

Contact Information

In many situations, finding a lawyer is one of the most important decisions an individual will make, as they are usually facing a major life issue, such as a divorce or criminal charges. An attorney in your area will be able to assist you with your claim as well as make sure you get the legal assistance you need.

Do not hesitate to contact an attorney. They are service-oriented individuals who want the best for their clients. In many instances, a lawyer will offer a free initial consultation, which can serve as a type of interview process for the potential client to determine if that lawyer will be a good fit for them.

Once you do choose an attorney, it is important to remember that they are often very busy handling many different cases at one time. You may want to ask them when the best time to contact them would be and by what means, such as email or telephone.

Remember that you are paying an attorney potentially a substantial amount of money, so you should be able to trust them with the great responsibility that is your legal issue. Your attorney will be present with you during any meetings or hearings and will always be present with you when you have to appear in court.
Although it may feel like a great expense, having a lawyer handle your issue is often a more expedient and cost-efficient way to resolve any legal issue.


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