If you are thinking about hiring a lawyer, there are a number of important preliminary questions you should ask.

Education and Experience

It is important to hire an attorney who has experience handling cases similar to your own. So, be sure to ask the attorney whether he or she has relevant (and recent) practice experience in the area of law at issue. Also, you may want to ask about the attorney’s legal education.

Professional History

Questions about the lawyer’s professional history are also important. You should ask the lawyer if he or she has ever been involved in a fee dispute. Another important question to ask is if the lawyer has ever been sued for malpractice, and how the lawsuit was resolved. You should also ask the lawyer if he or she has been subject to any disciplinary action by the state bar. If the answer to the last question is "yes" you should ask about the nature of the disciplinary proceeding, and its outcome.

If the lawyer is unwilling to answer any of these questions or if you do not want to ask them, you can usually find this information on your state bar website.

Contact Information

Clients often complain that their attorney doesn’t answer phone calls. However, your attorney might have a heavy workload and might not be able to stop what he or she is doing and take your call. This is why you should ask when the best time to contact him or her is and by what means (i.e. telephone, email, or in person).

While some of these questions may seem intrusive, you should not be shy or afraid when it comes to asking them. You are paying your lawyer a substantial amount of money and trusting them with a great deal of responsibility. The more information you have, the better off you will be.