You’ve just been served divorce papers.
Your dog bit a neighbor and now a lawsuit is looming.
A car accident has left you disabled, you believe the person responsible should foot the medical bills.
Legal situations can pop up at anytime in your life. Do you know how to choose the right lawyer for the job? With all the TV commercials and radio ads spewing legal advice your way it can be an overwhelming task.
The first firm that comes to mind should be Parry & Pfau (we do offer free consultations), but in the off chance we’re not the right fit for you, here’s five questions you should be asking a prospective lawyer.
How to Choose the Right Lawyer for Your Case
Question 1: Are you experienced/well connected?
Don’t be afraid to ask a lawyer what experience or areas of expertise they have. If he or she don’t have the skill set to accommodate your needs, they will most definitely be able to recommend someone who can.
Things to consider when it comes to experience: How long have they been practicing? How many cases have they been involved with? Aside from a law degree do they have any other special training or certifications?
Finding someone who can completely have your back from day one is key. And one way great lawyers do that is through their network of connections. Be sure to ask a prospective legal hire about their professional relationships and how they “outsource” or gather any knowledge/skills they can’t personally provide.
Question 2: Am I a typical client of yours?
This is one of those questions many people don’t think to ask.
You wouldn’t have open-heart surgery performed by a dentist right? Just as you wouldn’t have an attorney who only specializes in family law represent you in a case over trademark infringement.
If an attorney is used to working with corporations, you wouldn’t hire him to represent your college-aged son or daughter.
Question 3: What are my options?
Sometimes you may not even need a lawyer for your particular issue, or the attorney may not think you have a strong case. Going to court never comes with any guarantees, other than the fact that it will take time and money to get any sort of result—maybe not even the right result.
A good attorney will be able to inform you of alternative ways to solve your legal problem, which could include arbitration or other out-of-court arrangements (these can also be less expensive and time-consuming options).
Question 4: What is your approach or philosophy when representing a case?
If, for example, you are looking to settle your divorce proceedings amicably, you won’t really need a cut-throat style lawyer.
On the flip side, if you’re looking for a more aggressive one, be sure the lawyer in question is the right personality/style for you and your problem. In many cases, you will be interacting and speaking with your attorney frequently.
Question 5: How does your billing process work?
Lawyers fees and the billing process differ everywhere so it’s a good idea to ask this question up front (a lawyer has an ethical duty to tell you up front, but not all do). Not only will it prevent any headaches or surprises down the road, you’ll have an idea what sort of dollar amount to expect and whether or not you can afford the attorney.
No matter how you choose the right lawyer for your particular set of circumstances, it is imperative that you ask these core questions.
Got a legal issue of your own? Contact us for a free consultation and see if we’re the law firm for you.
Zachariah B. Parry is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau and is an adjunct professor who teaches torts, contracts, and Nevada practice and procedure for UNLV’s paralegal program. He can be reached at 702-912-4451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.