1. What experience do you have in this specific area of practice?
All attorneys specialize in specific areas of law. So, it is important to know if they have experience in the area of practice that you require. For example, if you require a commercial litigation attorney, you need to ask for the attorney's experience in this area of practice. How long have they practiced in this area of law? How many cases has the attorney had in this area of practice? What percentage of the attorney's practice is focused on this particular area of the law?
2. What are the terms of the fee agreement/retainer agreement?
This is a very important issue because the fee/retainer agreement dictates many aspects of the attorney/client relationship. For example, if the agreement is based on a contingency fee, make sure you know the percentages of the fee, and who is covering the costs/expenses. On the other hand, if it is an hourly fee case, ask for a rate schedule of everyone who will be working on your case, including paralegals. In short, you need to make sure you understand everything about the agreement. This is not the time to hold yourself back from asking too many questions.
3. Will you personally be working on my case?
It is not uncommon for there be more than one attorney (or firm) working on your case. It will be important to understand this before you begin. It will be in your best interest to know exactly who will be working on your case.
4. How will I communicate and receive case updates from you?
Communication is important in most every relationship and the same can be said about the attorney/client relationship. Communication is key. To that end, you need to let the attorney know how you would like to be updated, as well as how often you would like to be updated.
5. How long will this case take until conclusion?
The length of time for a case to conclude is very hard to accurately predict. There are many factors that affect the length of time of a case, such as court congestion, how many depositions need to be taken and the scheduling difficulty of each, as well as the opposing counsel's approach to the case. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to get a general estimate for the length of time for the case to conclude.
Hiring an attorney can seem intimidating when you aren't prepared with right questions. We hope that you can take these thoughts into consideration as you move forward on your search. Go back to your elementary school days and remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.