Meeting an advocate for the first time can be quite stressful, especially if you’re in a hurry to hire an advocate. We’ve found that the best strategy is by treating your first consultation session like an interview. The first session is often provided for free by most firms which should be great for you. That said, let’s get down to business. What should you ask your advocate so as to make the most out of your free consultation?
- How Long Have You Been Practicing Law?
As a client, it’s your right to ask your potential attorney about their expertise and the duration of their professional experience. It’s better to know more about the lawyer’s experience so that you can assess whether or not they will be a good fit for you. The conversation doesn’t only have to revolve around how long they’ve practiced the law. You can also navigate it towards deeper questions more concerned with the nature of their experience in the field. What kinds of cases do they usually handle? Are they a generalist or a specialist attorney? Etc.
- Can You Help Me Understand My Legal Footing?
This is one of the most important questions that you could ask. Regardless of whether or not you decide to hire them, any advocate will be able to give you an insider’s point of view. They might point out things that you weren’t paying attention to or weren’t aware of before. They can also provide you some casual advice based on their personal experience or the precedents they know of. Try to take mental notes of what they tell you so that you can discuss these things with the attorney you choose to hire.
- Do You Have Experience With Similar Cases?
Now that you’ve covered the basics, it’s time to ask the kinds of questions that will help you make an informed decision. Ask your attorney whether they’ve dealt with any case that was similar to yours. The information you get will add more depth to your understanding of their expertise. If your lawyer has been around many cases like yours, they’ll know what to expect, possible problems they might come across, and more importantly, your chances at winning. If they bring up any past cases, pay attention to how they talk about them. How people talk about their experiences often reflects more about them than the experience itself.
- Are there alternative solutions?
Hiring an advocate can be financially draining so it’s better to ask if there are other solutions to your case other than hiring an advocate. If the person you’re talking to is professional enough, they’ll be straightforward with you. They’ll examine with you all the possible solutions. On the other hand, if they make you feel like they’re your only option without hard evidence or a viable explanation, then you probably need to remove them from your list of prospects.
- What Is Your Usual Approach With Cases Similar To Mine?
Now that you’ve reached this point in your meeting, it’s time to ask the attorney about their approach with cases like yours. You need to know what kind of advocate you’re going for beforehand. For instance, would you like someone who has a more aggressive approach or someone with a more diplomatic style? Take mental notes of what the attorney is sharing with you, then compare it to what you’d be comfortable with. Drawing this comparison will help you come to a decision.
- What Is Your Fee Structure?
Finally, you can end the meeting by asking about their fee structure. If they’re someone you’d like to hire, then it’s important to know how much they charge because this could also be a factor in your decision process. Most advocates charge by the hour, but others ask for a contingency fee which is a percentage of the settlement if they win the case. Contingency percentages differ from one case to another which means that you can negotiate the price and come to an agreement.
Now that you have some idea of how to approach your consultation session, you should be able to improvise a little, if you want to. While these questions will help you make a decision, they’re only a general guide. Because everyone has their own priorities, you might feel like you want specific things covered. For specific questions, you’ve got to take some time to clear your mind, review your case, and figure out what you know, what you need to know, and what you’re looking for in an advocate. A useful tip to keep in mind is, when you’re coming up with your questions, try to find the right balance between learning about the attorney’s experience and learning more about your case.