Hiring an attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make as the implications of your decision can be far-reaching. After all, the outcome of your legal matter can affect your freedom, rights, finances, reputation, and educational and employment opportunities. Whether you’ve been charged with a crime or need an attorney for a non-criminal legal matter, hiring the right attorney can be a whirlwind, confusing process, especially when you have a limited amount of time to find and hire an attorney.
With thousands of attorneys to choose from, how to do you even begin to know who to pick? To help you select an appropriate attorney for your legal needs, we have compiled a list of 10 questions you may want to ask before hiring your lawyer. Keep in mind that these 10 questions are only a small sample of broad suggestions and you will likely have many more specific questions for your attorney that are tailored to your unique legal needs and situation.
- How long have you been practicing law? In what state(s) are you licensed to practice law?
- What areas of law do you specialize in? How long have you been practicing in these areas?
- After having described my legal issue to you, how do you think you can help me? What do you think the potential legal outcomes are for my legal issue? (Note: Be extremely wary of any attorney who promises or guarantees specific outcomes for your legal issue. This is considered unethical as every client’s case is different and prior results for past clients’ legal matters should not be construed to constitute a specific outcome in your legal matter.)
- How many past cases have you dealt with that involve a legal matter similar to mine?
- Which attorney at the law firm will be handling my case? Will any other attorneys or staff members be assisting on my case?
- What will be the specific fee structure for my case? For example, is it a contingency fee, flat fee, or hourly fee (what’s the attorney’s hourly fee?)? Is a retainer required? If so, when is this retainer used—throughout the course of the legal representation or applied at the end of the legal representation? What about any additional fees, costs, and expenses? For example, court filing fees, printing fees, and legal research fees? How and when will I be billed? How soon after receiving a bill is payment due? What payment methods do you accept?
- If I hire you, how soon can you start working on my case? (Note: This question is especially important in time-sensitive legal matters where you will need legal representation right away.)
- How often and by what method (i.e., email, phone, or in person) will I be notified of my case status? Who will I be communicating with—the attorney who is handling my case or someone else such as a paralegal or office assistant?
9.How can I contact my attorney during the course of my case? How soon can I expect a response? What happens if I need to contact my attorney after office hours?
10.What’s my role in this legal matter? How involved can I be or do you expect me to be in the handling of my case? (Note: This is an important question because some clients want to be very involved whereas others wish to remain on the sidelines as much as possible.)
Choosing an attorney is a massive decision. As such, it is imperative that you make an informed decision when hiring your attorney. If possible, it is strongly encouraged to interview several potential attorneys before deciding on one. Keep in mind that some attorneys will charge you for your initial consultations whereas others will not.
Before interviewing a potential attorney, write out your list of potential questions for the attorney so you can stay on track during the interview. The above 10 questions can be used as a guide, but it is likely you will also come up with your own additional, specific questions to add to this general list.
If you need an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, DWI attorney, traffic defense attorney, or immigration attorney in New Jersey, consider looking into the Law Office of Eric M. Mark. Our New Jersey law firm offers potential clients a free, 15-minute initial consultation, by appointment only. To schedule yours, contact us online here or you can contact us at:
Law Office of Eric M. Mark NEWARK OFFICE (by appointment only)
201 Washington St.
Newark, NJ 07102
Phone: (973) 453-2009
Law Office of Eric M. Mark JERSEY CITY OFFICE (by appointment only)
121 Newark Ave., Suite 515
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Phone: (201) 713-2227
Law Office of Eric M. Mark ELIZABETH OFFICE (by appointment only)
20 Commerce Dr. Ste. 135
Cranford, NJ 07016
Phone: (908) 224-0442