By Marc Emden, Esq.
You should give some thought to your decision of hiring a lawyer for your criminal or DUI or DWI case.
Questions to Ask a Lawyer Before Hiring Them for Your Criminal or DUI Case
- If your case is filed in Montgomery County, Maryland, for example, do you want a Rockville criminal lawyer or Rockville traffic lawyer? Or is the location of your attorney’s office less important to you than some of the other considerations in selecting him or her.
- Do you want to hire a lawyer from a small or large firm? If you hire a lawyer from a large firm, will the lawyer with whom you meet task other lawyers or paralegals to work on your case?
- Do you feel comfortable talking to your lawyer? You will have to share private information with your attorney. There may be intimate details that are critical to the case and omitting them can have an effect on the outcome of your case. Hiring someone that you feel comfortable around is going to make your traffic or criminal case easier for you.
- How long have they practiced law? You’ll want to know about the lawyer’s expertise and whether the lawyer is a veteran or beginner attorney, for instance.
- What type of cases do you generally handle? What percentage of your practice is devoted to traffic or criminal law? You’ll also want to know about a lawyer’s expertise and how much of the attorney’s practice is devoted to the topic area your legal issue falls within.
- Who is your typical client? This is an important, but often-overlooked question. For example, if you are an individual with a particular legal problem, but the attorney your meeting with represents only corporations; this may not be the best lawyer for you.
- How many cases have you represented that were similar to mine? Now is not the time to act shy. Feel free to ask about the attorney’s track record, such as the number of cases won or settled, for example.
- Other than a law degree, what kind of special training or knowledge do you have that might apply in my situation? Some cases, like DUI and patent cases, require specialized training and knowledge for effective representation. Be sure to inquire whether your case fits into that category.
- Does your attorney charge a flat fee (one fee regardless of the time involved) or an hourly fee, and what are your attorney’s fees and costs, and how are they billed? Will paralegals or legal assistants handle a portion or all of my case? If so, ask about reduced costs.
- What is your approach or philosophy to winning or representing a case? This can be important in two ways. First, if you are seeking an amicable divorce, for example, but the attorney is known to “go for the kill” in divorce cases, the attorney may not be the right one for you. Or do you want someone who can be aggressive but can also handle your case in a diplomatic manner until he or she needs to change the tone of his or her representation?
- Are there others ways for solving my legal problem? Ask the professional whether there are any alternatives for solving your legal problem, such as through arbitration or some other out-of-court arrangement. A good attorney will generally inform you if your case can be handled through other less expensive and time consuming means.
- How will you let me know what’s happening with my case? Communication is key when working with a lawyer. Ask the lawyer how often and under what circumstances you will hear from him or her. You’ll want to know how your case is coming along and about other important dates.
- What is the likely outcome in my case? It is fair to ask the attorney whether you have a good chance of winning your case. You are not looking for the “right” answer, just an honest one. For instance, if you’re facing an uphill battle in, let’s say, a difficult criminal case you’ll want to know up front from the attorney so you can prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
While the answers to questions you ask your lawyer will vary widely, it is important to keep in mind that nothing should be taken as a guarantee. Instead, these questions should give you some general knowledge of a specific lawyer’s experience and skill-level, and whether the lawyer is a good fit for you.