Questions to Ask Your Lawyer During a Consultation

July 8, 2020

For many people, meeting a lawyer for the first time can be a daunting experience. It shouldn’t be. The initial consultation is a great way for a potential client to get to know the lawyer they are trusting with their legal needs.

We’ve put together a list of some of the more common questions clients should be asking when they are deciding if the lawyer they are meeting with is the right lawyer for them:

What are the strengths and possible weaknesses of my case? A lawyer who is familiar with your area of law will be able to advise you on the strengths of your case and provide you with the weaknesses as well. The lawyer should make you aware of any risks or hurdles that you are likely to face and the consequences that may result from pursuing your case. A potential client must be fully informed in order to determine the best course of action to take.

Will I win if this goes to court? A good lawyer will rarely predict the outcome of your case because there are too many variables that may affect the end result. Instead of making promises related to specific outcomes, a good lawyer will review all your options and advise you based on a careful assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. The final decision should always be left with you to determine whether or not you wish to pursue your case any further. To make this decision, it is also the responsibility of your lawyer to ensure you are aware of the costs that you may incur by proceeding forward. An experienced lawyer will weigh the pros and cons well enough to simplify your decision for you.

How much will this cost me? By the time you leave a lawyer’s office after the initial consultation, you should know what fees and expenses to expect moving forward. Fees are determined by the hours that a lawyer will spend to work on a client’s legal matter, multiplied by the lawyer’s hourly rate. Expenses or disbursements are the hard costs that the lawyer may need to spend which would be billed back to the client. Examples of some expenses include court filing fees, process servers, mileage, transcripts, printing, scanning or expert witness fees. Typically, a client is responsible for both fees and expenses.

Who else will be working on my file? Lawyers often utilize paralegals, assistants, students and/or other associates for routine tasks and follow-ups. If you will be dealing frequently with someone other than the lawyer you originally consulted with, ask to meet that person.

Will you be available when I need you? Communication between you and your lawyer is key. Ask about the lawyer’s office hours and his or her general availability. If you need to meet outside of office hours, ask them if that will be possible. This may not seem important in the beginning, but when clients have difficulty getting a hold of their lawyer, it can quickly become a bigger problem.

How long will this take for us to get a final result? No lawyer can, with absolute certainty, guarantee a when your legal matter will be resolved. An experienced lawyer will be able to provide an estimate based on past cases with similar facts and legal issues.