How do I choose the right attorney?
This is a really good and important question! The attorney-client relationship is one that is really important. You will need to be able to feel comfortable with your attorney and trust him or her in what could be a very emotional and sometimes long process. Do not underestimate how key connecting with your attorney is.
When meeting with an attorney for the first time, consider asking the following questions:
(a) How long have you been practicing?
This question can give you some insight into how much experience the attorney has. A good follow up to this question might also be “with which firm(s) or organization(s) have you practiced?” Some attorneys who have experience working as a prosecutor, public defender or legal aid attorney might have a unique skill set and experience they can bring as your counsel given the high case load and more chances of being in a courtroom to which they were exposed to.
(b) Do you have any courtroom experience?
This will be something you will want to ask, especially if there is a likelihood that your case could go to trial. Of course, this does not mean an attorney who has not been to court is not as good as an attorney who may have been to court a one or two times. But, this will give you a sense of what their exposure and experience has been.
(c) Are you familiar with my issue?
This is another question that will help you in assessing the attorney’s background and making sure that he or she is a right fit for your case. With that being said, it should be note that especially in family law cases, many novel issues come up that attorneys may not have seen before. While the attorney might be familiar with the general issue, for example custody modification, there could be some novel issues or developments that come up that are unique to your case and new for the attorney.
(d) How often will I be updated on the status of my case?
If I was looking for an attorney, this would be one of my top questions! I would want to know how often I will be updated on my case and in what manner. Agreeing on ways to stay in touch at the beginning of the process, and being ensured that the attorney will update you along the way will help foster a good attorney-client relationship. This will, also, help in creating comfort and trust.
(e) What expectations do you have for me?
A question that should not be overlooked. As mentioned in the beginning, you and the attorney will be forming a relationship. You want to make sure you both are on the same page as far as expectations go. Does the attorney need you to collect any information or bring any documents for future meetings? Do you need to update the attorney on any contact information?