How to Choose an Attorney
Asking the Right Questions
Your Rights as a Client

Asking the Right Questions
There is no single question you can ask an attorney to be able to say "This is the right attorney for me." There are many questions you can ask, then make a decision after you speak with the attorney about whether or not they are the right person for you. Some questions you might ask the attorney are:
  • What kind of law does the attorney concentrate on, and has the attorney handled many cases like yours?
  • How long has the attorney been in practice? Is he/she licensed in any other state?
  • What type of fee arrangement does the attorney expect? Is it a flat fee for the case or an hourly fee? How often will the client be billed? What amount of retainer is expected?
  • Will the lawyer work on the case alone, or will other attorneys in the firm be doing most of the work.
  • Will the lawyer have enough time to devote to your case, or is he/she overloaded at the present.
  • How often will the attorney communicate with you, the client, to give you updates on the case? Will you get copies of all the paperwork and documents?
  • Can the attorney give you a preliminary assessment of your case or legal needs, to tell you what the results might be?
It is also good to note how you are treated when you contact the attorney. Did he/she listen to what you had to say? When the attorney responded to your questions, did you understand what was said, or was it in "legaleze" that made it too hard to understand? Were your contacts with the office staff pleasant? These are all questions that you might want to ask, and observations that you can make about the attorney and staff, before you make a decision to hire a particular lawyer.
 
After you have chosen an attorney, you may ask the lawyer to put the arrangement in writing. This can include what services the attorney will perform and outline the fees and expenses that may be incurred.

Your Rights as a Client:
After you choose your lawyer, and the two of you have agreed on the services to be performed and the fees and expenses that will be incurred, you have the right to expect the following:
  • A specific accounting from the attorney which shows how a retainer has been spent and how much additional cost is involved, and for what reason.
  • Reasonable and regular information from the lawyer as to the status of your case.
  • Copies of most documents relating to your case should be made available to you.
  • You, the client, must make the final decision regarding the disposition of your case. Your lawyer is there to explain your options and to make recommendations.