Questions to ask before hiring a lawyer

You should ask these questions before hiring a lawyer.

Duplication of work

To avoid duplication of legal costs it is important to find out who will actually be doing the work.

  1. Will the Partner, or person you speak to on the first occasion, be getting a junior lawyer to do the work?
  2. Does this include Court appearances and mediations?
  3. How is the potential for duplication of legal costs, as a result, avoided?
  4. If the case goes to trial, or there are any contested hearings in the lead up to trial, will a barrister be hired too?
  5. How will any duplication of legal costs be avoided as a result of hiring a barrister?

Experience

It is important to know what legal experience the lawyer or lawyers doing the work have.

  1. How long have you been admitted as a lawyer? Have you done this type of work, before, and how frequently?
  2. How often do you appear in Court?
  3. If the matter is likely to be heard in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia, do you have experience in the Magistrates Court and in Magistrates Court procedure
  4. If the matter is likely to be heard in the District Court or Supreme Court of Western Australia, do you have experience in those Courts?
  5. What extra training have you done and do on an ongoing basis, relevant to the work I am engaging you to do?

Costs & advice

The most frustrating part of hiring a lawyer is the limited information available your future legal costs.

  1. On what basis are the costs estimates provided? Has a spreadsheet been used to do the estimates? Can the spreadsheet be made available?
  2. What is the method for providing advice? Is this provided in writing or orally or both? If both, what factor determines whether the advice is provided in writing vs orally?
  3. If we need to get in touch, can we send each other text messages to avoid wasted time leaving messages for each other, by telephone? Do you use Skype?
  4. Based on your experience, what % of costs in a case like this are recovered if we win? What am I getting from you for the "gap"?
  5. Do you charge anything extra for work done by secretaries and non-legal staff?
  6. Will you provide me options for work to be contracted out, including offshore? (This is such as in relation to preparation of list of documents for discovery)?
  7. If there is any need for a taxation of costs in relation to costs awarded during the course of the case, do you personally do the bill of costs and attend any hearing, or do you hire an external costs consultant?
  8. If I have questions about my bill, how do you make it easy for me to ask questions?
  9. Do you provide audio recordings of our meetings, at request? What about telephone conversations, as well?