Hiring a highly respected lawyer is a critical part of your legal process. A caring lawyer will provide you with the highest level of legal representation and make sure that you are not punished for a crime you did not commit. Here are some things that you should ask your potential lawyer:
How long have you practiced law?
You will want to hire someone who has experience in the courtroom. You will want to know where their expertise lies and if they are a fresh face or veteran attorney. Do not write off the younger lawyers, however. If they are passionate and skillful, your best bet may be someone who has just recently passed the bar exam. Highly respected lawyers can come in many forms. You never know.
What type of law do you usually practice? How much experience do you have in the practice area in question?
For example, if you have been charged with domestic violence, you will want to consult a criminal defense attorney. Criminal defense lawyers often specialize in one or more criminal areas, so it is possible to find a domestic violence defense attorney who has only practiced in that area, and knows it up and down.
Who is your typical client?
While this question may be odd, it is important. If you have a problem with your business or corporation, but the lawyer you’ve consulted only deals with individuals, you probably haven’t made the right choice. You should also know if the lawyer in question deals with CEOs of major corporations or college students, which vary drastically, and can bring in a variety of other factors.
How similar cases have you represented?
Ask about their track record. You are making an informed decision, and you should know what the outcome of their cases has been, especially ones similar to yours. If they haven’t represented a case like yours, you may want to move on to a different layer. Likewise, if the lawyer hasn’t won any cases similar to yours, that is a red flag as well.
What sort of special training do you have, other than a law degree?
Some areas of law, like copyright or DUI defense require special training and research. It is also nice to know what brought someone to practice law. What was their undergraduate degree in? Why did they decide to be a lawyer? What sort of work outside of law have they done?
What are your fees and how are they billed? Will you handle my entire case or will part of it be handled by legal assistants or paralegals?
You have to know if you can afford this lawyer before you make the ultimate decision, obviously. In many cases they will have help handling a case. Since paralegal fees are lower, you may be able to have part of your case handled at a discounted rate.
What is my likely outcome?
An honest attorney won’t beat around the bush — if your charges are severe, you may face serious consequences with or without an attorney. The reality is, however, you should hire one regardless. Not having one will leave you drowning in legal jargon and more than likely increase your sentence or penalties. The right lawyer, however, will do whatever is possible to reduce or acquit you of any charges.
Finding a suitable and highly respected lawyer will be less stressful if you remember to ask these questions.