Getting to know your lawyer

Getting to know the person representing you is crucial. Before you are ready to engage a lawyer, you should always have a suite of questions prepared and ready to ask them. Why? Not all lawyers have the same experience and expertise that may be required to handle your case. You need to be confident you are a good ‘fit’ together; you communicate well, they understand you and you are confident in their ability to represent you.

Here are some questions you should consider asking your lawyer:

How long have you practiced law for and are you an accredited specialist in your field?

Get to know their background and specialties, as this will help to give you a good indication of their experience representing people in similar cases to yours, especially in recent years.

Who will be doing the work and how many lawyers work in the firm?

Your lawyer will most likely be part of a law firm with associates and paralegals. Make sure you know who will be working on your case and in what capacity, and how involved your lawyer is going to be in this work.

What is your fee structure?

You are entitled to ask upfront how your lawyer will charge for their representation. In some cases it will be a fixed amount, and in others it may be an hourly rate. Lawyer rates can be negotiable if you are willing to ask the hard questions; you will also need to be upfront about your budget and cost expectations. While your lawyer may not be able to give you a precise quote, you should have a good understanding of the potential price tag.

What are my chances of success?

Ask about your chances of success and the likely outcomes of the case. Discuss what you would consider to be a successful result. They should never guarantee a specific result; however, they should be able to give you a frank preliminary assessment of how your case is likely to play out. You want your lawyer to be frank and upfront if they do not believe you have a case.

How will we communicate?

You should feel comfortable from the beginning of engaging your lawyer that you will be able to have regular communications with your counsel. You will want to understand how you will be kept informed of any developments to your case. Make sure that you exchange contact information and agree on the ways that you will stay in touch.

How long will it take to reach a resolution?

Your lawyer should give you an estimate of how much time it will take to get to a resolution. While your lawyer does not control the pace of the process, they’ll be able to give you a reasonable ballpark upfront.

Asking a potential lawyer these types of questions upfront should give you general knowledge of a specific lawyer’s experience, skill-level, field of expertise and whether the lawyer is a good fit for you and your case.

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