How to Get the Most out of a Free Lawyer Consultation
Almost all injury lawyers conduct free consultations for new clients. These meetings allow lawyers to screen cases and clients to make sure they fit their practices. Consultations also give clients the chance to learn about their rights and legal options and interview the lawyer.
Most accident victims have never hired a lawyer before. Understanding what lawyers do and what to look for in one during a free consultation will help you pick the right lawyer for your case.
How Free Consultations Work
Free consultations are exactly what they sound like. A lawyer sets aside some time to meet with prospective clients without charging them for the meeting. During your consultation, you will discuss your injuries and how they happened.
The lawyer may ask a few questions to fully understand your situation. You will also ask the lawyer questions about your case and the lawyer’s background so you can make informed decisions about your claim.
You have no obligation to hire the lawyer at the end of the consultation. Even if you have a good feeling about them, you should consider meeting with a few different lawyers before making a hiring decision.
Remember that different lawyers have different skills and experiences. The perfect attorney for a medical malpractice case might not necessarily be the best person to represent you in a car accident claim.
The Purpose of Free Consultations
Free consultations serve several purposes. For lawyers, meeting with prospective clients allows them to identify cases where they can help and separate them from ones where they cannot.
For example, defamation cases arise from the same field of law that covers personal injury. However, many personal injury lawyers do not represent people who have been defamed. Instead, they will refer these cases to a different lawyer.
Initial consultations also give lawyers a chance to avoid cases that may pose a conflict of interest. Specifically, lawyers cannot represent clients with conflicting interests. If you were injured by a doctor’s medical error, the lawyer must turn down your medical malpractice case if the lawyer represents the same doctor in a car accident case.
For clients, free consultations provide free legal information. This is why meeting with multiple lawyers is important. Lawyers often have different views on and interpretations of the law. As a result, you will often get a more complete picture by meeting with multiple lawyers.
Consultations also give clients a preview of the lawyer’s analytical abilities. Listening to a lawyer analyze your case will help you imagine how they will perform in front of a claims adjuster or jury.
Getting the Information You Need
Some ways for you to make the most of your free consultation include:
Write Down Questions to Ask
One way to use your time efficiently is by writing down a list of questions to ensure you cover all your important issues before your meeting ends. Some questions you should consider asking include:
- How much do you charge?
- What experience do you have with cases like mine?
- What outcomes can I expect in my case?
- How long will my case take?
- How will I get updates about my case?
- Do I have any impending deadlines?
Listen to both the content and form of the answers. A good lawyer needs to communicate with insurers, opposing lawyers, judges, and jurors. If you have trouble following their explanations, a claims adjuster or jury may have trouble following them as well.
Your communication with a lawyer during an initial consultation is covered by attorney-client confidentiality. This means the lawyer cannot disclose or use anything you say to them about your case.
You should have a full and honest conversation about your situation, including any embarrassing details. A lawyer can only provide a solid legal analysis and sound advice when they have the complete picture.
Talk About Fees
One of the most common disputes between lawyers and clients involves fees. Talk to the lawyer early on about the fees you will pay for your case. Most injury lawyers charge a contingency fee, which means you will not pay until the end of your case. But you still need to know how much you will pay and whether the lawyer will charge you for any other expenses, like court filing fees or other litigation costs.
Ask About Experience
Make sure you find out whether the lawyer has relevant experience. Although all injury cases stem from the same field of law, lawyers with experience in your type of case will have:
- Contacts with expert witnesses relevant to your claim
- Knowledge of the issues that could arise in your case
- Experience with which arguments work and which do not work
If the lawyer has handled cases similar to yours, ask about the results they’ve obtained for others.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Free consultations provide information about your case and the lawyer. Contact Silberstein, Awad & Miklos for a free consultation to discuss your case and how we can help.