Many lawyers will provide an initial consultation for free. But even if a lawyer charges for a consultation, it might be worth the money to pay for a few consults to find the right lawyer. Here are some things to assess in the first meeting:
How available is the lawyer?
When making an appointment, ask to talk directly to the lawyer. If you can’t, this may be a hint as to how accessible he or she is. Of course, if you’re told that a paralegal will be handling the routine aspects of your case under the supervision of a lawyer, you may be satisfied with that arrangement. Ask how long it will take for your phone calls to get returned or how hard it is to schedule appointments.
How does the lawyer communicate?
Ask specific questions. Do you get clear, concise answers?
How does your lawyer feel about your legal knowledge?
If you’ve read this book, you’re already better informed than most clients (and many lawyers). How does the lawyer respond to this? Some lawyers are threatened by clients who have done their homework. Others welcome clients that are well-informed and willing to participate fully in their case.
Does the lawyer carry malpractice insurance?
If the answer is no, consider finding a lawyer who does. But keep in mind that malpractice insurance is far more protective of the lawyer than the client, and the fact that a lawyer is insured may make it more rather than less difficult to recover damages from the lawyer if he or she is professionally negligent.
Do the lawyer’s recommendations seem sound?
One of your goals at the initial conference is to find out what the lawyer recommends in your particular case. Go home and think about the lawyer’s suggestions. If they don’t make sense or you have other reservations, call someone else.
No matter how experienced or competent the lawyer is, if you don’t feel comfortable with him or her during the first meeting, you may want to keep looking.