A few tips to guide you along the path to hiring legal counsel.
From the first contact with the attorney's office, conduct yourself best in a manner that is professional, organized, courteous, and kind.
Organize your thoughts, concerns, and legal goals in advance; consider writing a brief summary of the legal issue and possible questions you may have. See Columbus Lawyer Finder's Legal Tool Kit for ideas.
Ask the attorney how much experience they have handling legal issues similar to yours.
Ask the attorney how you can best be involved in information or document gathering, evidence preservation, and goal setting.
Ask the attorney how they typically handle communication with clients (phone or email) and how quickly you can expect responses to questions and issues as they come up.
Ask the attorney how busy their workload is presently, when they will have time to begin work on your matter, and how long they think it may take to resolve your legal issue.
When fees are an issue, you can:
Familiarize yourself with the way legal fees are charged for the area of law in which your legal issue is typically found. See What to Expect in each area of the Legal Tool Kit for more information.
Ask the person who answers the attorney's phone or emails about whether a free initial consultation is offered, how the attorney typically charges, whether payment plans are accepted, and what forms of payment the office will accept.
Be as organized as possible so that you are buying the attorney's services/time as efficiently as possible.
Before phoning or emailing the attorney, plan what topics or questions you need answered and restrict your conversation or email to brief and specific topics related only to your legal issue.
Request a Written Fee Agreement from the attorney to prepare yourself about what to expect and how to handle issues related to fees.
Ask the attorney whether mediation, arbitration, or some other legal or non-legal solution might be a lower-cost way to handle your issue.
Seek out local community mediation services or legal aid information.
Determine a legal budget and contact attorneys in your practice area until you can make a positive connection with an attorney who will fit your budget or who will be willing to take payments.