7 Questions to Ask in a Lawyer Interview
From slips and falls at work to car accident claims, a personal injury attorney is there for you. Unlike the lawyer stereotype, personal injury attorneys are compassionate people who want to get your life back to the way it was, or as close as it’ll ever be.
But not every lawyer is as honest and caring as our team, and we understand that. When you’re talking to lawyers and getting a consultation, here’s how you can find out what kind of lawyer they are, and if they’ll truly be there for you.
Learn what questions to ask during your consultation, aka the lawyer interview, below.
What’s Your Fee Schedule?
When you hire a personal injury attorney, you should not pay a dime until you win your case. This is the guarantee the lawyer gives you that they’re not just trying to milk you for your money.
If you lost your case, they know that you’re already out the money from your accident or injury, and lawyers are humans. They’re not going to charge you if they don’t win.
However, that’s not the case for every personal injury lawyer on the planet, so check with them first. If you’re looking at their website, see if they offer a free consultation or if they use the word “guarantee.”
Once you figure that out, you need to know what percentage of your settlement they’re going to take as payment. This should be a fixed number, a percentage.
If can be anywhere between 25 and 40%, depending on the amount of work and the sum of the settlement.
Are You Familiar with Cases Like Mine?
You want to hire a lawyer who looks at your case and thinks “this is easy”. That sounds a little flippant, but it shows that they know what they’re doing and exactly what they’re going to argue.
While they can’t legally give you all the details, you can ask them to generally describe another case like yours that they’ve won.
If you’re being really thorough, you can ask them if they’ve ever lost a related case, and why. This will help you figure out what challenges you’re up against if any.
Ask About any Predicted Challenges
Some cases are harder to argue than others, even if they have similar circumstances. If your employer didn’t put out a wet floor sign or take precautions but you were on your phone, that could make it a weaker case.
Or maybe there’s little to no proof of the circumstances or of your injuries. Each case is different and your lawyer will treat it as such.
After you ask them if they’re familiar with cases like yours, ask if they think you’ll run into any roadblocks. They may have insight that you don’t have into a particular insurance provider or employer.
Knowing that you’re up for a challenge can help you prepare better and make sure you have realistic expectations for your settlement process.
Hopefully, your lawyer will be confident that you can overcome these challenges, but confidence and denial are two different things.
Will My Case Go to Court?
A lot of personal injury cases never go to court, because it costs more to bill court hours. Your insurance or your employer don’t want to spend more than they have to on the litigation of your case.
But, sometimes it happens. And if it does, you want to make sure your lawyer can stand up to the pressure.
Ask them how often they go to court and what their success rate is in the courtroom.
If they’ve lost cases in court, it’s better they’re honest with you, and you’re allowed to ask why they think they didn’t get the results they were aiming for.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Lawsuits can take a long time, especially if the other party is trying to negotiate the settlement. A good lawyer will know the appropriate settlement amount to start with so they can cut down the litigation time.
Shorter litigation means you’ll pay less for attorney fees in the end and you’ll get to keep more of your settlement.
Ask them first how long cases like yours normally take. Then ask how long they think yours will take, specifically. If they say yours will take longer, they’ll likely volunteer the information why.
If they don’t, then feel free to ask them yourself.
How Involved are Your Clients?
If you end up taking your case to court, you’ll likely need to show up. But if your lawyer is communicating with the other party over the phone and email, then you don’t necessarily need to be involved.
If you’d like to be more involved, let them know. Some lawyer prefers to work alone and others don’t mind having some meeting company.
Let them know what you’re thinking in terms of involvement and ask them if that’s okay.
Even if they work alone, your lawyer will never make a decision about your case without contacting you, so keep that in mind.
Ask for a Related Reference?
While lawyers always have testimonials on their site, those stories may not be related to a case like yours. Ask your attorney if you can speak to a reference who has a similar case.
That way, when you talk to them, you’ll get a more realistic idea of what to expect.
Be sure to ask the reference if there were any pain points in their interaction, and then listen to their experience. If they were unhappy in any way, they’ll tell you, and if they were happy, vice versa.
The Lawyer Interview: How Many Should You Do?
Before you take the time to have a consultation with a lawyer, find two or three online that you think you like. Then schedule your lawyer interview with your first choice and reassess after that.
If you pick the first lawyer, then great, you can get started on your case.
If it wasn’t the right fit, you can always move on. Just make sure to take these questions with you for the best results.