Questions to Ask When Looking for Legal Representation
A good lawyer is not hard to find if you do your homework and ask questions when you first meet. Just like the lawyer is asking you questions about your case, you should feel comfortable enough to ask him or her about their expertise.
• Don’t be Afraid to Ask (“DBAA”) about the attorney’s experience and job history. You should go to the State Bar of Georgia website, which is the licensing organization for all of the state practicing attorneys. (GABar.org) Go to the Member Directory Search and type in the attorney’s name. You will see the practice or business information; bar admit date; law school attended; status of license (should be Active Member in Good Standing); Public Disciplinary History (should be None on Record); and member of specialty sections, such as Family Law or Criminal Law or others areas of the law.
• DBAA for recommendations from a colleague or clients to discuss their satisfaction with the legal services rendered to them by the attorney.
• DBAA if the attorney has ever had a case like yours or one with similar facts. Ask if the attorney can discuss the outcome without breaching the attorney-client privilege. Otherwise, make sure the attorney is comfortable or experienced in handling the type of case with your facts.
• DBAA about all of the fees, costs and expenses required to handle your case. Ask about the maximum costs that may be required or needed and make sure that your retainer agreement or contract for legal services explains the same.
• DBAA for a payment plan or arrangement if a large retainer fee is requested. Make sure that you understand the amount necessary to hire the attorney and when he/she will begin working on your case.
• DBAA about the staff or assistance needed to handle your case and whether the attorney will need to hire additional help or consult with experts and numerous witnesses to assist with your case or to conduct a trial.
• DBAA whether the attorney can make a referral to another lawyer in your needed area or specialty. Ask if they have a colleague who may have more experience or a lower fee.
• DBAA what ways you can help secure information or documents for the attorney and assist him/her in making a quicker evaluation of your case. Remember that full disclosure up front will allow the attorney to thoroughly evaluate your case and make informed decisions about any resolutions. If you hide information, it will come back to haunt you and harm your case.
• DBAA if the attorney participates in a client referral program for future discounts on services that you may need.
• DBAA and send the attorney a thank you note or write a letter of recommendation for excellent services when you are pleased with your representation. The attorney will really appreciate your kind words of gratitude.