You're At Your Consultation -- What Next?

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A typical pitch for a law firm includes telling you to call to set up a consultation to discuss your case. But once you get to the consultation, what do you actually do? The consultation is meant to give the lawyer a good idea of whether your case is worth taking, and at the same time, you can get an idea if the lawyer is going to be a good match for you. In addition to specific questions regarding your case, you should ask the lawyer the following questions to see if this is someone you want to work with.

Are You the Lawyer Who Will Work on My Case?

When you first go in for a consultation, you will talk to a lawyer -- but not necessarily the lawyer who would represent you in court if you had to go that far. Depending on what needs to be done, you could end up working with someone different. For example, you might see one lawyer who can write letters and look at the details of your case, but if it turns out that you have to go to court, then you might have another lawyer who is a specialist at arguing your type of case in front of a jury.

If it does turn out that you'll be working with another lawyer, ask to meet with that lawyer, too. You have to be sure that your personalities and styles won't clash. If you tend to ask a lot of questions, for example, you wouldn't want to work with a lawyer who tells you that you're overthinking everything. You want a lawyer who will answer the questions.

What Happens if the Case Drags on and Your Fees Increase?

Cases can be unpredictable. If you don't have the money to retain a lawyer indefinitely, you have to find out what will happen if the case continues and the lawyer's fees become unmanageable for you. Ask if there are payment plans, or if there is a point where the lawyer's fees become contingent on a win.

How Have Other Cases Like Mine Ended Up?

The lawyer you eventually hire should have experience in the field you need, of course, but you also want someone who has a good chance of winning your case for you. If the lawyer says that cases like yours are difficult to win, and he's not seen one win yet, speak to another lawyer. It is always possible the first lawyer was correct and that you don't have a winning case. But on the off chance that the first lawyer just didn't have good experiences with cases like yours, you wouldn't want to hand over your case to that person. If you're being sued and have to get a lawyer for a defense, you want a lawyer who can at least negotiate for a lower penalty if you don't have a good defense.

Schedule your consultation for a time when you'll be able to ask a lot of questions and get a good feel for how the law firm treats its clients. The right lawyer will be straightforward and keep you informed about everything happening.