- What is your experience with [the area you need assistance in]?
- What hourly rate or flat fee will you charge for the work done?
- What is your approach or philosophy in dealing with this type of matter?
- What are some of the hazards a client faces in this type of situation?
- What advantage do you offer over another attorney?
- What type of client is a poor match for you?
- How do you communicate with a client?
- What is your best estimate of final cost for this matter?
- Do you have malpractice coverage?
- If you are out of town or unavailable, do you have someone else in your office who will take care of my matter?
- How long will this matter take to resolve?
I’m not suggesting that any particular question is more important than another or that a particular answer qualifies or disqualifies the attorney you’re talking to. You may find that many attorneys are professionally qualified but that you just prefer working and communicating with some more than others. This is about gathering information to make a better informed decision.
Some questions are less relevant for certain matters than for others. For example, the hazards mentioned in number 4 above may apply more to pursuing litigation than starting a company.
Also, number 5 isn’t meant to suggest that you should only hire an attorney with lots of advantages. But it would be helpful to understand what the attorney you’re talking to thinks is the benefit of hiring him or her. Every attorney will have somewhat different strengths and this can help you gauge that–or if they’re just puffing hot air.
Those questions aside, I would encourage you to ask any questions that help you understand what you’re getting. Every attorney is different and it’s wise for both the attorney and the client to be a good match and to know what to expect from the other.