Ask the lawyers what experience they have had with this type of legal matter as many lawyers only have exposure in particular types of law. A lawyer who has experience can save you money while getting you the best results.
Who is around you that I can speak to ?
You need to know that your lawyer has a team of experts surrounding them, from lawyers to law clerks to secretaries. There should always be someone there to speak to with current knowledge of your file, if your direct contact is unavailable.
How many of these a month / year do you do? (too few and too many are both a worry)
You want to make sure your lawyer has experience in this field, but not have so many similar files on their plate that your file competes with others.
What if something goes wrong, how do you deal with that?
Many 'factory’ firms that specialise in only one practice area (conveyancing for example), don’t have the backup if something goes wrong with your matter. Ask if there is a litigation department that will help if your matter goes off the rails.
Are you accessible? How (by what means)? At what times?
Be sure to ask how long the lawyer will take to get back to you when you contact them. If you are unable to contact your lawyer directly, they should have a secretary, personal assistant or paralegal who is also working on your case that will be able to help you. Lawyers should ask you how you would prefer to be contacted; email, phone or letter.
What information do I get and when?
Communication is paramount when working with a lawyer. Ask the lawyer how often and under what circumstances you will hear from him or her. Also find out if you have any electronic access to your file during its duration.
What if I’m unhappy?
Ask what process they have if you do not like the way your case is being handled or are having problems with communication. There should be a clear procedure in place at the law firm that can be explained to you.
Give me an example of a common problem and how do you handle it
You want to make sure your lawyer has common sense, forward planning, use of initiative, interpersonal skills and problem solving abilities help manage tricky situations.
Are you speaking my language?
Pay attention to how your lawyer answers your questions and how open and clear they are with you. Find a lawyer you can understand and who has the patience to explain your file adequately. They should be able to explain every step to you without making it confusing.
How is the cost worked out? How do I check that’s reasonable / competitive?
Lawyers can have different ways of calculating their fees. Some may provide you with a fixed price, however be wary of this, as every legal problem is different. Cheap doesn’t always mean the best and they may have hidden fees, or 'shift of the posts' after you commit to the firm. Lawyers are required to provide you with an estimate of the cost of your matter. Ask for the estimate and for how and when it’s altered.