10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR LAWYERS
If you’re thinking about working with a lawyer, it’s important that you find the right one. There are many different types, so here are 10 questions you should ask when making your decision.
1. Is the first consultation free?
Some lawyers offer the first appointment for free so you can meet, discuss your issue, and find out if you’re right for each other before signing an agreement. However, some lawyers will charge for their time right from the outset. It’s important to clarify this before your meeting.
2. What is your experience and expertise?
This is a two-part question. In order to make sure you’re in the best possible hands, it’s helpful to know how many years your lawyer has been practising and what study they’ve done along the way. Some lawyers are accredited experts in their field, which ensures you get great advice.
3. Have you worked on cases similar to mine?
It’s very common for lawyers to specialise, which means not every lawyer can help with every type of matter. It’s always a good idea to ask how many cases they’ve worked on with similar circumstances to yours so you can gauge their knowledge and skill in that area.
4. Are you the lawyer who will be working on my case?
If you work with a smaller firm, you’ll probably deal with the same person the whole way. If you choose a larger firm, it’s common that a junior lawyer will work under the supervision of a partner. Both provide quality advice, but this will ensure you know where to direct questions.
5. Can you explain to me what this means in plain English?
The law can be complicated and confusing, so it’s important to choose a lawyer with good communication skills. This question is a good way to make sure you understand each other.
6. What options do I have to resolve my issue?
Once your lawyer has reviewed your case and done the necessary research, they will be able to recommend a few different courses of actions you can take. Your lawyer will help you weigh up the pros and cons of each option so you can reach the decision that best suits your goals.
7. What are my chances of a successful outcome?
This is really important to know upfront, because it will help guide the decision process. Success means different things to different people in different circumstances, so it’s helpful to be frank.
8. What steps should I take and what documents should I prepare?
It’s important that you leave the meeting with a clear direction. Ask your lawyer to talk you through the process and give you a list of the things you need to do before your next meeting.
9. How much will it cost to work with you?
Before you sign an agreement with your lawyer, they’re required to disclose the cost of doing business so you know exactly what you’re getting into and how much you can expect to pay.
10. What’s the estimated timeframe?
The time taken to resolve a dispute can vary widely. For example, a commercial matter may be resolved in a few hours through mediation, or a family matter may take a few years to resolve through litigation. Your lawyer will be able to rely on their experience to give you an estimate.