You don’t necessarily have to like your lawyer, but you should be able to trust their honesty and capabilities. Most attorneys offer a low-cost or free consultation to discuss your situation. You can use this meeting to “interview” them and determine if they are qualified to handle your case.
Education and Practice History
First, you’ll want to get the details of a lawyer’s history. Feel free to ask potential attorneys where they went to school and how well they performed. You can also ask them about their experience, like other firms or states where they may have practiced. Remember that they don’t necessarily need to have a Harvard education or be a partner at a top-ranked law firm to be a good fit for you.
Specializations and Proficiency
Depending on what your issue is, the level of understanding an attorney has in that specific area of the law can make a big difference in your case. Find out the number of similar cases he or she handled and the rate of wins, losses and settlements. Sometimes, your case warrants specialized training or knowledge that not every lawyer has. For example, a DUI lawyer should probably not handle a patent lawsuit. Similarly, a personal injury attorney Columbia MD may be more successful if the firm has access to many medical experts that are familiar with giving trial testimony.
Costs and Communication
Here are the big ones: how much will it cost and how will the attorney communicate the details? Ask what the billing rate is and how often the law firm sends out invoices. Also, be aware that paralegals or other assistants may handle all or parts of your case. It is reasonable to expect that they should bill at a lower rate. Find out if your lawyer generally communicates via phone or email, and of which specific events in the process you will be advised.
Outlook and Honesty
An honest lawyer should inform you of the best course of action. It shouldn’t matter if it means less money for them or an alternative solution that doesn’t involve them at all, like arbitration. Attorneys should also be able to give you a good idea of how your case will play out, or be comfortable telling you that they don’t know.
You are not obligated to retain the first lawyer with whom you meet. If you don’t feel like it is a good fit, don’t be afraid to move on.