Hiring a lawyer is a very important decision when facing a legal problem. You need to ask questions that will provide you with real and accurate information you can use when the time comes for you to hire the right lawyer that meets your needs.
What types of cases does your law firm handle?
It is important to hire a lawyer experienced in your type of case. For instance, if you have been charged with a criminal offence, it would be to your benefit to hire a criminal lawyer rather than another type of lawyer such as a personal injury lawyer. Also, some lawyers have focused their practice on specific types of cases such as assaults, murder cases, DUI cases, etc. Choosing a criminal lawyer that has experience representing clients that have faced criminal charges like yours is very advantageous as the lawyer will have a complete understanding of the charges and know how to provide the best possible defence.
If the lawyer you choose does not have trial experience with cases that are similar to yours, the lawyer may miss something that could be very important to your defence. Also, if other lawyers/paralegals from the firm will be working on your case, make sure you ask about their experience.
How long have you practiced criminal law?
History is a good sign of experience. Many criminal law firms will make it known about their combined years of experience. However, you should hear details of the lawyer’s experience firsthand to make sure the lawyer has the experience you need for effective legal representation. Be very wary of promises that he/she can get you off without even reading any of the arrest reports, without looking at all of the discovery, and without talking to the prosecutor about the case.
How do I know if I have a strong case without spending a lot of money?
A lawyer will be able to evaluate the circumstances that resulted in your criminal charge and advise you of the possible outcomes. Initial consultations are normally provided at a low cost or free of charge. A good lawyer should never pressure you to retain his or her services. In addition, the lawyer should be very open about the costs of representation. Ask the lawyer what rate he/she charges. Is it a flat fee or do they charge on an hourly basis? Also, ask whether the lawyer offers payment plans so you can determine whether the lawyer is willing to work with you and your budget.
Is the lawyer a member of any professional bar associations?
Find out whether the lawyer belongs to any professional bar associations. An attorney’s involvement with professional associations reflects the attorney’s commitment to their area of law.
How long will it take to resolve my case?
The answer will depend on certain factors such as: whether you will go to trial, attempt to have charges dismissed or reduced, or whether you negotiate a plea.
How often will I receive updates about the status of my case?
The lawyer should be able to tell you how he or she and the office operate from the beginning to the conclusion of a case. They should be able to explain to you how the legal process works and who will be working on your case. They should be able to explain who will be contacting you when there is news, the number of times you will meet to discuss your case, and who you can contact when you have a question. Ask how long it normally takes to respond to phone calls. Even if you talk with another person in the office, you should receive timely responses.
Have you ever worked as a prosecutor?
It can be beneficial to have someone defending you who knows what to expect from the prosecutor. Also, former prosecutors generally have more trial experience.