What are the questions to ask a lawyer in your first appointment, or in an initial inquiry before you even have an appointment?
For those who can get a free initial appointment, try and use that free time more about sussing out the lawyer and making sure you’re happy with them, than trying to get all the advice you want within a half-hour first initial appointment for free.
The kinds of things that you want to ask or find out from a lawyer, before you go ahead and employ them, are:
… is the lawyer a member of their State law society?
It’s not compulsory that solicitors are actually a member, but most good practitioners are a member of their State law society.
Those who are members want to be accountable to our peers, and we want to know and comply with best practice. Members are required to have certain levels and standards, and so for those who aren’t members, well, they’re really missing out on a lot of what the industry can offer them.
Those not members might be flying under the radar, by not being part of a society that requires best practice.
… whether they’ve got any other qualifications other than their law degree?
Quite often lawyers will do further studies, particularly if they’re working in a specific legal area. They’ll do more graduate studies or extra conflict resolution training, a graduate certificate in a certain area of law or a Master’s degree, or they might be members of certain practice groups, so helping set policy and best practice in certain areas of the law.
That really shows that the lawyer is up to date and active in their area, and meeting best practice again as well.
… out of all the work they do, what percentage of their work is this kind of work?
For solicitors who really specialise, 80% to 100% of their work would be in their particular field.
Whereas, generalists solicitors might be practicing across five or six areas of the law, so it might be less than 20% of their work in that sort of area.
Asking the question just gives you an indication of the level of experience and expertise that they have in the area, because while someone might have had 30-year career in the law, but they’re only doing 10% of their work in that particular area versus someone who has 10 years and 80%, age doesn’t equal the same level of experience.
… will they provide a fixed fee quote?
Ask them what are all the options that they have to a fast or alternate resolution process without having to go to court. Of those options, what are the timeframes, what are the steps and what are the costs to all of those?
You’d probably want to get three alternative processes out of a lawyer rather than just being filtered into court.
… what is their preferred way of communicating?
Now, if you are someone who prefers phone conversation, you might not want to work with a lawyer who prefers email correspondence or vice versa.
They might tick the boxes for everything else, but they might not communicate in the same style that you communicate. That can be a deciding factor, because you will just frustrate each if the way you communicate doesn’t match.
If you want more on this topic, I’ve done a longer video on this in my Facebook group, Legal Support for Women. So you can jump over onto Facebook and find that group and apply to join.
Hope to see you there.