You’ve seen enough TV shows and movies. You know the drill.
When you’re facing something serious though, such as drug or criminal charges, you know that DIY lawyering won’t cut it. You need to lawyer up, but you also don’t want someone whose only qualification is “I’m available.”
Finding the right attorney though can be tough. It’s even more challenging when your life is on the line.
That being said, don’t wait for the right attorney to come to you. Start looking and, while you’re at it, prepare yourself by knowing the top questions to ask lawyers. This way, the process of hiring an attorney becomes much faster and easier.
5 Important Questions to Ask When Hiring a Lawyer
Assuming you already have a list of lawyers you’re thinking of hiring, it’s best to set up appointments right away.
Before your meetings, however, don’t forget to come prepared. Some attorneys, especially criminal defense lawyers, require that you fill out a questionnaire. Make sure to complete it and submit it ahead of the first consultation.
Also, if you have supporting documents with you, bring them with you to the meeting. These could include your list of questions if you have trouble remembering them.
The more questions you have for your attorney, the better, but if you’re pressed for time, be sure to ask these five.
1. What’s Your Experience Handling Cases Like Mine?
Attorneys have their specializations. Even criminal defense attorneys don’t handle all types of criminal cases. Some will specialize in drug charges while others only handle violent crimes or theft-related offenses.
Your lawyer has to be a specialist when it comes to the crime you’re charged with. His or her experience has to cover courthouse litigations as well as a full understanding of what to expect from prosecutors.
Be ready to follow up with related questions. For example, you should ask the number or percentage of clients whom he or she has represented for similar charges. You should also know their success rate for cases that go to trial and those that involve plea agreements.
2. What’s Your Payment Structure?
Some lawyers, in particular personal injury attorneys, work on a contingency basis while others prefer a flat fee. There are also attorneys who want to be billed by the hour.
You should know how your lawyer wants to be paid before you sign any agreement. Make sure to also ask about additional fees. Keep in mind that when a case goes to trial, there may be motions, briefs, and complaints that have to be filed. Those don’t come cheap, and you may find yourself incredulous when you get your total bill.
3. What Do You Think of My Case?
It’s good to be optimistic, but remember, you’re not hiring lawyers to make you feel good. You want someone who can level with you and not give you any false hope.
Now, you can phrase this question in different ways. You can ask how they plan to approach your case or you can be more specific and ask about different scenarios.
For instance, ask what would happen if you plead guilty or ask if it’s advisable for your case to go to trial. You can also ask if it’s possible to plead guilty to a lesser charge, and so on.
A good attorney will not always give you the answers you want to hear, but he or she will also be honest if you have a fair chance of winning your case.
4. What’s It Going to Be Like Behind the Scenes?
What you’re trying to find out here is how your case will be managed. For large firms, it’s possible that other lawyers, as well as paralegals, and interns will handle your case.
That’s why you need to know for sure who will represent you and who will be working behind the scenes. If there are other people who will work on your case, ask to meet them. This will help clarify how you’ll communicate with them.
You need to know the people you can call, who will reply to your emails, etc. The last thing you want is for the phrase, “too many cooks” to “spoil” your case.
5. What’s the Best Way to Communicate With You?
You can’t have your attorney ghosting you. The lines of communication have to be open, but it’s not going to work if you and your lawyer have different ideas about how to communicate.
Maybe he or she likes to talk on the phone while you prefer emails, or perhaps it’s vice versa. You have to agree on those things before you work with each other.
Other Questions to Ask Lawyers Before Hiring One
You’re not limited to five questions, which is why it helps to have a list. You can ask about your obligations once the lawyer takes on your case. This involves being honest.
For example, if you have outstanding warrants, previous cases, etc. Another thing you might want to ask is the length or duration of your case. Will it take long, and if yes, what should you do?
A good lawyer should be able to come up with an estimate for how long your case will take, and this can help you prepare accordingly.
Need to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Baton Rouge, LA?
Now that you know some questions to ask lawyers, this should help you prepare for your meetings with the attorneys you’re considering for your case. If you need more help, however, don’t hesitate to do further research. There are tons of resources online you could use to help you become ready for your initial consultations with your top candidates.
If you’re facing drug charges or criminal charges in Baton Rouge or Livingston, Louisiana, let’s talk about your case.
You can call 225-964-6720 or leave us an email through our online form. You can also browse our other articles. We recommend you start with how you can beat felony charges or what to do after receiving a court summons for drug possession in Louisiana.