What Questions Should I ask a Lawyer?
What questions should I ask a lawyer I’m thinking about hiring? If you have never been involved in a lawsuit before, it is hard to know where to start. First, you are going to want to do some research. There are a lot of websites that compare attorneys. One of the oldest and most trusted is Martindale. Once you have come up with a list of lawyers you want to interview, you need to know what “interview questions” to ask. This article provides some suggestions.
What Questions Should I ask a Lawyer if I’m Thinking About Hiring Her?
Have You Handled Cases Like this Before?
Listen to the answer very carefully. Listen for answers like, well, I’m licensed in many jurisdictions and I have never…” That does not really answer the question. The lawyer should be able to say something like “yes, I handle personal injury cases all the time.” Or, “yes, I have handled breach of contract cases in the past, but that is not my main stay.” The answer to this question should start with the word “yes” or the word “no.”
Do You Do Just These Kinds of Cases or Do You Do Other Kinds of Cases Too?
This question asks how well they know this particular area of the law. I do a ton of pharmaceutical cases. I cannot imagine that someone who just does one or two really knows the intricacies at play.
How Long Have You Been Doing This?
This question is pretty straightforward. You are just asking purely about experience in the practice at law.
How Many Cases Do You Have Right Now?
This question asks whether you are going to get a lot of attention, a very little bit of attention, or something in between. If your case is a mass tort, meaning that a bunch of people are suing the same company, claiming similar injuries (like most pharmaceutical cases), I think anything under a thousand cases will mean that you can get pretty personalized service. If your case is a car accident, I would say you can get personalized service if the lawyer has as many of thirty other car accident cases. If they have much more, you will probably notice that you start to feel more like a number than a name.
What Questions Should I ask a Lawyer Once I Have Hired Her?
How Much Do You Think This is Going to Cost?
I do almost all contingency fee cases. That means I can tell you, “it will cost you nothing if you don’t win and it will cost you a certain percentage of your entire winnings if we are successful.”
If you hire someone to work on a case – an actual lawsuit – for you hourly, they should be able to give you an estimate. In my experience, the estimate is always low. I recommend adding twenty percent to whatever the estimate is. That will help you to have a more realistic expectation.
How Long Do You Think This is Going to Take?
I am always glad to hear this question. It gives me an opportunity to tell or remind the client that litigation works much slower than it feels like it should. If you can resolve the dispute without litigation, it may take only two or three months. On the other hand, if you have to file a lawsuit, a simple case will probably take around a year to resolve. A complex pharmaceutical case will take at least three or four years to resolve and it could take much longer.
How Much Do You Think I’m Going to Win?
I admit that I hate this question because so many variables go into the answer. Take for example a pretty basic case. Let us say the plaintiff has a “real” injury, but not a debilitating injury (like a broken leg). Generally, the rule is that the plaintiff should be able to recover the total amount of their medical bills times three. If the case involves more serious injuries with long term hospital stays, the general rule would be total hospital bills plus total lost wages times six or seven.
In addition to reading this article about what questions to ask, take a look at this article about being the best plaintiff you can be. Of course you want a good lawyer, but a good lawyer can only do so much. You also want a good case. This article describes what you can do to have the best case possible.
Attorney Kimberly Beck
Attorney Kim Beck is the managing member of Beck Law Center, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has 15 years of experience as an attorney, mostly on the defense. She now represents plaintiffs in personal injury cases involving a variety of injuries caused by defecting drugs/ pharmaceuticals, medical malpractice, and other series accidents. If you would like more information about her background and experience, please review her profile page.
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