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Your Lawyer: A User's Guide

by Lawrence J. Fox and Susan R. Martyn
How do I know if my lawyer is competent?

Lawyers may be competent because of special training and experience, or by study and association with other more experienced lawyers. But all legal representation requires some core abilities, which you can ask about.

You mean the ability to stretch the truth?

No, we mean the ability to know the law, prepare thoroughly, and act promptly to complete the matter. We recommend that you keep these core abilities in mind when you interview prospective lawyers and decide whom to hire.

So, I'm not an expert, how do I know if my lawyer will do a good job?

Nearly every legal representation requires similar steps. Your lawyer will need to investigate relevant facts, understand relevant law, formulate a legal strategy that furthers your goals, and draft documents to implement them.


1. What kind of experience do you have in handling similar cases?
2. What steps will you take to handle my matter?
3. How will you investigate the facts of the matter?
4. What law is relevant to my case?
5. How will you formulate a legal strategy?
6. What documents will you draft and file? When?
7. Is this a specialized matter? Are you a specialist in such cases?
8. How will we communicate?
9. How long will this take you to complete?
10. Are you swamped with work?
11. Where does my matter come in your priorities?

Chapter 6: Your Lawyer Must Keep Your Confidences; or, My Lips Are Sealed »