What Questions Should I Ask a Lawyer During an Initial Consultation?
Although bringing anything and everything that’s relevant to your case to an initial consultation is important, many people often overlook an equally important aspect of preparation: coming prepared with any questions they may have concerning their case. For this reason, it’s important to show up with a list of questions you may have for your lawyer, along with some idea of the answers you expect, or hope, to receive. While most think of a consultation as a chance for a lawyer to assess the quality of their case, it’s also a chance to assess the quality of the lawyer. With that in mind, here are some good questions to ask a lawyer if you find yourself scheduling an initial consultation.
Have you handled this type of case before?
This might be the single most important question to ask any prospective lawyer. In order to get the best results, you’re going to want a lawyer with plenty of experience handling cases just like yours. Although the level of experience necessary will depend on the complexity of your situation, you’ll still want a lawyer who has some experience in the field of personal injury. If your case is relatively straightforward, then you can decide whether or not you feel like hiring a less experienced lawyer whose services may come at a reduced cost. In determining experience, the more concrete, detailed examples you’re able to get from the lawyer during the consultation, the better. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions, especially relating to the success rate and any potential problems you might expect.
What will the fees and expenses be?
It’s important to know, right from the start, what the lawyer you’re meeting with is going to charge. Whether it be a fixed amount or an hourly rate, having a clear understanding of the cost of your case will help you decide whether or not it makes sense to proceed or pursue other options. If you’re suing for monetary damages, you should ask your lawyer if they can represent you on a contingency basis, which means they get paid only if they win the case in your behalf. If a lawyer does provide the option to work on a contingency basis, ask what percentage of the money they’ll receive at the end of the case. Keep in mind, it’s typical for lawyers to take around one-third of the total amount, but this can vary from lawyer to lawyer and case to case. When it comes to money, it’s crucial that you know early on what to expect, even though the lawyer most likely won’t be able to give you a precise quote during the initial consultation.
What strategy do you intend to use?
Since initial consultations are largely designed to help you assess whether or not the lawyer is the right person to handle your case, it’s a good idea to ask questions regarding what strategy would be employed. Some lawyers might be hesitant to give a strategy that’s too concrete until you’ve signed a contract or paid a retainer, but it’s still worth inquiring about. Ask about strategy, the potential outcomes of that strategy, and the amount of time the lawyer believes pursuing that strategy will take. You’ll have to balance the potential benefits with the cost and risk of different strategies, so it’s important to know about them early on. Ask what the lawyer’s preferred strategy requires of you. Finally, you’ll want to ask how often the lawyer intends to provide updates over the course of the case.
Although the specifics of your case will affect the questions and concerns you may have going into an initial consultation, the value of writing your questions down (and writing down the lawyer’s responses) cannot be understated. When you schedule a consultation with the personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we encourage you to ask any and all questions you may have concerning your case.