Questions to Ask a Lawyer at Your Initial Consultation
When choosing an attorney, you want to find the best advocate for you and your situation. Finding the right lawyer is crucial, and many law offices provide free or low-cost consultations. Whitehurst, Blackburn & Warren is no exception.
Attorney Joe Cargile encourages future clients to prepare questions for their first meeting with their potential legal representative.
“It’s okay to interview us when we sit down in the initial meeting. As attorneys, we are used to doing the questioning,” says Cargile. “We’re both navigating a new relationship at the client consultation though. There are questions you need answered. You should ask them.”
Cargile suggests five basic questions to ask an attorney before deciding they are “the one” for you.
#1: What experience do you have with this type of case?
When researching and interviewing potential lawyers, feeling out a law firm’s experience with other cases like yours may help you make the correct choice.
“Usually, WBW has worked on a case similar to yours – while the facts of your case may be different, the laws are the same,” Cargile says. “For example, we may not have ever done a breach of contract case against the specific vendor your company is having problems with, but we’ve done breach of contract cases against companies and individuals that don’t want to follow through with their end of a deal. The law behind your claim will be similar, if not the same as cases we’ve handled in the past, and we will be able to guide you through the process.”
#2: What is your strategy for my case?
Your lawyer should outline the possible ways to handle a case like yours. Then, he or she should be able to explain why they have used those general strategies in the past. They won’t know all the facts about your case, but your potential legal counsel should be able to give you an idea of where they want to go with your case if you choose to hire their firm.
#3: What are my possible outcomes?
WBW won’t be able to guarantee you a specific outcome in your case. Be wary of a law firm that does. Still, most lawyers can speak about the potential outcomes for your case using generalities. Discussing potential outcomes in a case helps both the client and the attorney set realistic expectations for the case.
“For example, you aren’t going to get a 20-year prison sentence for a misdemeanor traffic incident,” Cargile explains. “You also aren’t going to be able to recover damages from someone for intentional infliction of emotional distress when they breach the terms of a contract. Setting expectations for what can go well, and what might go wrong, is important.”
#4: What’s my role in the case?
Some clients prefer to be hands-on and involved every step of the way while others choose to let their attorney handle the case as they watch from afar. “Either approach works,” Cargile says, “but knowing the roles – and how involved you want to be up front – helps us navigate your case.”
If you want more involvement in the decisions made throughout the course of a case, let your potential legal representative know.
#5: How much is this going to cost?
When your potential counsel has a good understanding of your case, your expectations, your role and the overall strategy, then he or she can estimate your expenses based on comparable cases and how long the case may take.
“I want my potential clients to understand what the cost will be to handle their legal issue. Even if a potential client walks away after that conversation, I want that person to leave with a good impression of our firm and feeling that we have been up front about the fee structure involved,” says Cargile. “Disputes over money can sour any relationship. Asking questions about the case, especially the cost, helps set the stage for a successful attorney-client relationship going forward.”
To schedule your no cost, no obligation consultation with these and other questions in mind, call WBW at 229-226-2161.