Being an “insider” in the law business, I have often considered the questions I would ask if I were searching for a lawyer to represent me in an accident claim. The following are, in my opinion, the top three questions to ask:
1. Do you have substantial experience with claims like mine, and will you actually be the attorney handling my case?
It goes without saying that you want an attorney who knows what he is doing. What you really need to look out for is a “bait and switch.” For example, you see attorney “Bob Loblaw” advertising an impressive career with 20 years of experience. You meet Mr. Loblaw, and you hire him. Your case is then assigned to an attorney fresh out of law school and you never see Mr. Loblaw again. Avoid this by having the experienced attorney promise up front to personally handle your case himself.
2. Does your law firm have a local office and, if so, do you work in your law firm’s local office?
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to drop by your attorney’s office and have him look over something you got in the mail that day? Wouldn’t you hate to have to travel out of town to see your attorney? Having a local lawyer can make your life easier, not to mention the fact that local knowledge concerning doctors and judges can give your lawyer a significant advantage in an injury case. By the way, our “local” is the tri-county area consisting of Marion, Alachua, and Citrus counties.
3. Will my attorney promise to work one-to-one with me?
What you are trying to avoid is hiring an attorney who seemingly steps out of your case by delegating all client contact to a paralegal. Do not get me wrong, paralegals are very helpful. When used appropriately, they will actually increase your level of satisfaction with your attorney. All too often, however, you will find law firms relying on paralegals to deal with issues they really are not trained to handle. A common complaint by clients of such firms is “I never get to speak with my attorney.” This problem tends to be more common at the large advertising law firms. Ask your potential attorney what he uses paralegals for, and how often you can expect to speak directly with him.