There are four purposes to this process. First, it allows consumers to determine whether the attorney has sufficient experience not just in the specialty pertaining to their problem, but also whether the lawyer has had previously solved a similar problem for another client. Second, they can learn whether his style is suited to their goals in resolving the dispute they have with the other side. For example, if a potential client is hoping for a settlement, a hardball Rambo like style may backfire. Third, they will discover how well they and the attorney communicate with one another. Fourth, they can ask the attorney if they are able to devote sufficient time and resources, such as a support staff, to their case.
Consumer Reports suggests that the following questions be asked during an interview with any attorney a consumer is considering retaining:
- How many years of experience do you have in this specialty and how have you handled similar disputes in the past?
- What are the possible results from pursuing this matter?
- How long will you expect it to take to resolve this matter?
- How will you keep me informed of what is happening as the case proceeds?
- Will anyone else, such as one of your associates or paralegals, be working on my case?
- Do you charge a flat or an hourly rate and how much?
- What other expenses will there be besides your fee and how are they calculated?
- What’s a reasonable approximate figure for a total bill?
- Can you give me a written estimate?
- Can some of the work be handled by members of your staff at a lower rate?
- Will unforeseen events increase the amount you charge me?
- If you charge on a contingency basis, what proportion of the amount I recover will be paid to you as your fee and can this figure be calculated after the expenses are deducted?
- How often will I be billed, and how are billing disputes resolved? If we cannot settle this, will you agree to mandatory arbitration?
- Do you need any further information from me?
- Can I do some of the work in exchange for a lower bill?
- Do you recommend that this matter be submitted to an arbitrator or mediator, and do you know anyone qualified to do this?