This week’s blog post is brought to you by our office manager, Andrea.
Who really understands how to hire an attorney? Prior to my employment here at Adolph Legal, I had a very vague understanding of the legal process, payment options, and how important it is to hire the right attorney for your legal needs. As an office manager, I focus on balancing accounts and human resources so legal expertise is NOT in my vocabulary. Now that I’ve spent almost a year employed here I see that most people are in the same boat that I was in before I was hired. So, for this week’s blog I will share some of the research I’ve done and some of my personal experiences to help guide you through the process of hiring a lawyer.
When someone needs a Criminal or Family Law attorney they have no shortage of stress. A way to minimize your stress is knowing what questions to ask. In my research, I came across an awesome e-book from Legal Match. Below are the writing attorney’s recommended 11 questions to ask and the link to the full article as well.
Here are 11 important questions to ask before agreeing to hire any lawyer:
- Is the lawyer a generalist, or a specialist in one type of law?
- Has the lawyer handled cases like yours before?
- What different outcomes can the lawyer predict for your case, if any?
- What alternatives to a lawsuit might be considered?
- Should mediation or arbitration be considered?
- How long should you expect to retain the lawyer’s services?
- How often will you be billed, and what’s the lawyer’s estimation for fees and services?
- How will the lawyer inform you of the case’s progress?
- What style can you expect from the lawyer: aggressive or open to settlement?
- Will others be assisting in the case?
- Is the lawyer covered by malpractice insurance?
These questions focus on having a thorough understanding of the communication style of your potential attorney. When talking to someone about your legal future, be sure and that they lay out what you can expect and how billing will take place.
Often, billing can cause stress. Let’s not beat around the bush, the bill is almost as important as the quality of representation. Call around to different local offices and get an idea of how they bill. If they won’t give you a generic price quote I wouldn’t hire them! Money is a part of everyday life and it shouldn’t be hidden. After all, you are hiring someone for a highly important service. So, from this office manager, here is an easy guide to the ways you can pay your new attorney. You can have an attorney “on retainer” which means that you pay them monthly or give them a retainer without having a current legal issue. This is done as a preventative measure. It gives you the ability to consult a legal professional about any questions you may have and to expedite progress on a case should one arise. That should not be confused with paying an advanced fee to an attorney to start work on an existing case. Advanced fees are commonly referred to as retainers. Funds from an advanced fee go into a trust account and get billed against as your attorney works on the case. The amount that is billed is at the attorney’s hourly rate and dictates the earned fees, you can find the hourly rate in your fee agreement. You can also pay a flat fee. “A flat fee is a specific, total fee that is decided up front, before the attorney provides any service. A flat fee is usually offered only if your case is simple or routine, such as drafting a straightforward will or bankruptcy filing. Flat fees often limit attorney’s services, so be sure to confirm what services are included in your flat fee arrangement.” This definition as well as many others can be found in this article. http://legalconnection.com/hire.htm It gives an excellent overview of the hiring process as well as a comparison of the different types of firms to consider.
If you choose to hire your attorney on retainer/advanced fee, which most people do, make sure that you are giving them an ample retainer in relation to the overall expected cost. It helps you and your attorney stay current on your bill. It prevents an interruption of service to your case, and the best part is that whatever goes unused will be issued back to you.
Everyone should understand the process of hiring an attorney and how to best develop a quality legal relationship. Here at Adolph Legal we pride ourselves on advocating for our clients, concisely delivering fee quotes, and being forthright and honest with billing practices. These efforts directly link to our client satisfaction and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this company. I’m always interested in feedback, comment or call 920.634.2212. And last, but not least, please share this blog post, because you never know if a friend, family member, or co-worker may need quality representation.