7 Questions to Ask Your Lawyer at Your First Consultation
When you are looking for a lawyer, it can be a daunting task, especially if you have no prior experience with one nor have a good recommendation from a trusted family member or friend. Your first visit gives you a good opportunity to “grill” the lawyer with important questions, ones that will inform you and ease your mind on the lawyer’s skills, experience, and qualifications.
“How Long Have You Been Practicing Law?”
This is a good ice-breaker question that will kick off the conversation with your potential lawyer and help you become acquainted with him or her. Most people like talking about themselves and their experiences and feel comfortable with that topic. Therefore, you might include inquiring about where they went to law school and if they have practiced in other cities. Also, it is always interesting to find out if the lawyer has received any special awards or recognitions due to his work or if there is involvement with a favorite community project.
“What Does It Cost To Hire You?”
First of all, most law offices charge a low fee for the first consultation or offer it for free. As far as the overall cost, that is usually determined by a case-by-case evaluation. All along the way, you should be given full transparency on what costs are being incurred and what settlement the lawyer is requiring from the defendant. You may want to ask about possible complications that could arise and if any additional fees may be acquired due to them. Also, inquire about being given a firm quote for fees and/or disbursements and when you will be billed.
“Have You Ever Won A Case Like Mine?”
This question helps you to find out the lawyer’s track record, how many cases were won and settled that were similar to yours. Ask about the possible outcomes of cases like yours and the chances of success.
“How Much Participation Is Expected From Me?”
Your lawyer will need to know you and your story in order to represent you effectively. There should be honest, accurate representations involving both client and lawyer so that details needed for the case have been included on the record. Different lawyers handle cases differently according to their individual personalities and what they have learned works successfully. Some expect a high level of participation from clients and others prefer to do most of the work themselves. Be certain to know exactly what is expected of you before any definite commitment is made.
“How Will We Communicate?”
You should be informed on a regular basis of how your case is proceeding. Phone calls need to be returned the same day, if possible. Emails, faxes, and texts should also be acknowledged and replied to quickly. You may not always be able to communicate directly with the lawyer; so, find out if others in his office or firm will be available to talk with you if you cannot get in touch with your lawyer.
“What If The Other Party Countersues Me?”
Just like anyone can sue anyone, anyone can countersue. Now whether there are grounds for the countersuit and the person can win is another matter. An attorney can tell you what the chances are that the countersuit would likely be successful or not. The other party would need to present solid evidence in their favor in order to win. The pros and cons of the countersuit would need to be weighed to predetermine if the costs and time spent in court would be worth it. More than likely the plaintiff would be threatening a countersuit as a way to intimidate you, but it is best to let your lawyer help you with how to reconcile the situation.
“What If We Win My Case But The Other Party Appeals?”
If either the plaintiff (one complaining) or the defendant (one defending his actions) (the winner or loser) in a civil trial disagrees with the final decision of a judge or jury, the party can “appeal” his or her case to a higher or appellate court. This process is complicated and not always successful, but your lawyer can advise you on what you should do and how to do it if you find yourself facing this challenge.
The initial consultation is the time to learn about the lawyer and to ask questions to see if you and the lawyer are a good fit. The answers to questions you get will vary widely with each lawyer, but don’t take anything for granted. It is important to be fully satisfied with your choice of the person who will be working with you in a difficult time of your life. It is vital to have someone with the level of skills and experience that meets your specific needs. Getting the answers that offer you peace of mind, that you and your situation are in good, capable hands, can lighten your burden and stress significantly.
Injured? Contact Ornelas & Serna Law.
If you are in need of a skilled, reputable lawyer who will be that type of representative for you regarding an injury case, take the time to contact Ornelas & Serna Law to get the justice you deserve.