Litigation Frequently Asked Questions

How to Select a Lawyer

OK, so you've identified a handful of attorneys who may be able to help you with your case. You've received referrals, looked online at FindLaw, and even searched the Yellow Pages. How do you know which lawyer would be best suited for your matter? Although price is certainly a consideration, it is rarely wise to choose a lawyer based solely on the rate(s) offered. Here are several questions to consider in selecting an attorney.

Experience

  • Has the lawyer handled similar cases? When was the last time the lawyer handled a similar case?
  • Ask to hear about cases like yours that the lawyer may have handled. Remember: Age may have nothing to do with the lawyer's ability to help you. A lawyer who has practiced for 20 years may have less experience with your type of problem than a lawyer who is three years out of law school.
  • How long has the lawyer been in practice? Where is the lawyer licensed to practice? Has the lawyer been investigated or disciplined before by state licensing authorities? If so, for what?
  • What types of resolutions has the lawyer had in similar cases? How did those resolutions come about? Settlement? Negotiation? Mediation? Arbitration? Trial?
  • Can the lawyer provide references to other clients?

Availability

  • Who will work on your case? Will the lawyer do all of the work or will legal assistants, paralegals, or other associates do the work?
  • Does the lawyer have a large caseload or coming trials that could affect his availability or attention to your case?

Communications

  • Can the lawyer explain the legal aspects of your case - and the process you should expect - in a way that makes sense to you? If the lawyer cannot explain things to you properly in an initial meeting, there is no reason to believe that he or she will be able to make a convincing presentation on your behalf.
  • Do you feel that the lawyer listened to you and was interested in your matter?
  • Did the lawyer (or someone from the lawyer's office) respond promptly to your initial contact?
  • Has the lawyer told you both the strengths and the weaknesses of your case?
  • Can the lawyer give you an estimate on overall costs and time? Are there any alternative courses of action? If so, what are the advantages and disadvantages of each one?
  • How often will you need to meet with the lawyer? How often will the lawyer call or write you to give you updates on the case? Will the lawyer provide you with copies of relevant documents?

Comfort Level and Other Intangibles

  • A lawyer-client relationship requires trust and confidence. Has the lawyer been able to inspire your trust and confidence?
  • Do you feel comfortable in revealing to the lawyer all of the relevant information - not simply the "good" facts?
  • Is the lawyer aggressive enough - or conciliatory enough - to make you feel comfortable with his or her approach to your matter?
  • Has the lawyer explained the nature of the lawyer-client relationship? As the client, you have the right to make the final decisions in your case on most issues. The lawyer should provide you with options, guidance, and recommendations, but also respect your wishes as to how to proceed.

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