October 15, 2021
5 Questions To Ask Before Hiring Your Attorney
Written by Erb Legal LLC
With so many attorneys to choose from, it’s essential to know you’re getting the best representation possible. Every law firm is different regarding its practice areas, billing methods, and procedures. Knowing the right questions to ask before hiring an attorney can help you make the right choice.
Here are five questions to ask before hiring your attorney.
1. What Experience Do You Have in This Area of Law?
Although every attorney has attended law school and studied various types of law, some attorneys focus on specific areas. You should make sure that the attorney you hire has significant experience in the practice area that involves your case.
If you’re divorcing your spouse, you want an attorney familiar with family law. They should know local divorce courts, judges, and state laws. That applies to other areas like criminal defense and personal injury.
2. How Are Your Services Charged?
There are several ways that attorneys can charge for their services, including flat rate, hourly, and contingency.
Hourly fees are standard for family law and criminal defense attorneys. You might have to pay a retainer, which is upfront money. You should know that some attorneys charge a minimum amount of time for any task.
If your attorney charges an hourly rate, ask about retainers and minimum fees and time for tasks. Often, an attorney may have a lower hourly rate than another, but their minimum fees result in more expense over time. Some of our competitors charge a .3 or .4 minimum per task. This is essentially 3 times their hourly rate. At Erb Legal LLC, we always charge a minimum of .1 for a task.
Contingent fees are standard for personal injury attorneys. These arrangements don’t require any money upfront, and the attorney typically pays for the initial costs of the case and legal process.
Once you win a settlement or verdict, you pay the attorney a percentage of that recovery. The attorney’s payment is “contingent” upon your winning compensation.
3. What Do Your Legal Fees Cover?
In addition to paying an attorney for their time and legal representation, fees also might be used for:
- Court filing fees
- Mailing costs
- Expert witness and professional case review fees
- Independent medical review charges
- Medical records costs
Attorneys who charge hourly will keep track of their tasks, from correspondence to drafting legal documents. Paralegals and other staff might have lower rates under an hourly billing structure. However, they also charge for all their activity involving your case.
4. Do You Charge for an Initial Case Review or Consultation?
Some attorneys offer free initial case consultations, and others do not. You should call the law firm to ask before scheduling a case review with an attorney. Even attorneys who charge high rates may offer free initial consultations.
An attorney will not give you legal advice without a signed contract, and they will not do work for you without a fee agreement. However, an initial consultation helps you understand your situation and options.
5. Do You Charge for Case Updates?
The best attorney will provide you with plenty of communication and updates on your case. You should be able to call or email their office whenever you have a question. However, if you speak directly to an attorney, you might be charged for that communication.
You may also have an option to talk with legal staff who can read the attorney’s notes and provide you with update. It would be best to ask about your attorney’s update and communication process before you hire them.