Hiring a criminal defense or family law attorney is a major decision, and the first step in finding the right lawyer for your case is usually a consultation. Many attorneys offer free consultations to prospective new clients; this gives you the opportunity to assess the value of legal services and attracts more clients to the attorney. If you plan to take advantage of an attorney’s offer for a free consultation, it is important to know what to expect from the process and what to bring with you for your meeting.
Important Items to Bring to Your Consultation
If you are meeting with a personal injury attorney to discuss a civil claim against another party, such as a car accident, then you should bring these items:
- A copy of the police report, if one is available.
- Copies of all correspondence you have had with insurers thus far. Ideally, you should not speak to any insurance companies without legal representation.
- A list of witnesses and other parties involved in your claim. The attorney must ensure that he or she has not represented any other party involved in your claim to avoid conflicts of interest.
- Your personal information, such as your driver’s license, so the attorney can verify your identity.
If you or a loved one needs a defense attorney for a criminal matter, then you will need a few more materials for your consultation.
- Your bail documents.
- All court documents you have received that list the charges against you and your next court date.
- Paperwork from any police searches.
- A list of names and contact information of any witnesses, victims, or other defendants involved in the case. The attorney must verify that representing you will not create a conflict of interest with a past or current client.
Questions to Ask During Your Consultation
Regardless of whether you need a personal injury attorney for a civil claim or a defense attorney to defend against criminal charges, you need to know that the attorney you hire can handle your case. In addition to the documentation and other information you bring to your consultation, take some time before your meeting to develop a list of questions for the attorney. Consider these examples of questions you may want to ask.
- How long have you practiced law? It is vital to hire an attorney who not only has experience practicing law, but also experience in the area that pertains to your case. For example, if you plan to pursue a medical malpractice claim, you would not want to hire an attorney who only has experience with car accident claims.
- What are my odds of success? Many attorneys operate on contingency fee billing, meaning they do not collect legal fees unless they win. If such a lawyer agrees to take your case then this should be a sign that you have a high chance of winning. Ask the attorney directly what he or she believes your chances of success are.
- Will you settle or go to trial? The settlement value and trial value of a claim can be very different, and it is important to understand how your attorney will approach your claim. In some cases, settling quickly is the preferable option, but a good attorney will know when to take a case to trial for more substantial compensation.
- How do you bill for your services? Do not be shy about asking about the price of representation; legal services generally are not cheap, and you want to be certain of your financial obligation to the attorney before signing any contracts.
The attorneys at the Ciccarelli Law Offices handle civil and criminal matters for clients all over the state of Pennsylvania. Contact our Philadelphia office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys. Once we understand the details of your situation we can let you know how our firm can help.