How to see through the ads and ask the important questions in an interview
What actually makes one legal practice better than another in Texas?
If you’ve watched any afternoon television programs, you’re probably aware that a lot of law firms in Texas are vying for a chance to take on your personal injury case.
With so many options, the biggest issue you’re likely to confront is who to contact.
Let’s look at what to ask as you search for a personal injury lawyer to represent your interests in the state of Texas.
Narrow it down to 3-5 attorneys
There’s nothing wrong with starting out by a Google search to see what you come up with.
You can get a good sense of personal injury law firms from their websites, together with reviews on independent legal sites and directories.
Then, look for clues to the following questions.
Many of these you will not readily find published. That’s ok. Keep a pen and notepad nearby and jot down all the questions that come to mind as you sift through websites and profiles.
- Past client reviews
Check independent directories to see what their past personal injury clients say
- Knowledge of your part of Texas
Have they tried or settled similar cases in your city or county? Do they have an office near you?
- Who will be assigned to your case
Make sure all the questions you ask are relevant to the specific lawyer assigned to your case. It may not be the person you are speaking with the first time.
- Experience with your type of case
How many personal injury cases they have handled in Texas for your type of accident or injury? Do other lawyers refer cases to them?
- Overall experience and resources
Firm age, size, experience, connections with doctors and expert witnesses relevant to your case. Awards and leadership roles in organizations can also be good indicators.
- Good judicial connections
Find out if they participate in the local bar association and contribute to campaigns.
- Comfort with going to trial
Find out how many of their cases go to trial and the success rate of those that do.
- Negotiation ability
Ask what sort of settlements they have obtained (remember, 95% of personal injury cases are settled without trial)
- Your personal comfort with the lawyer
Do you feel comfortable talking to them about explicit details of your case? Do they answer your questions to your satisfaction? Are they a good listener? Ask how and how often they will communicate with you about your case.
How do they expect to be paid? Are there any fees or terms that would change if the case goes to trial, for example? Are expenses billed separately? What about costs for expert witnesses and other resources that may be necessary?
Ask specifically when your lawsuit will be filed and how long they anticipate it will take. Make sure they do not have so many pending cases right now they can’t devote proper time to yours.
- Your expected role
Ask the attorney what expectations they will have of you. There may be several things they will expect you to do, but some attorneys may not welcome extensive client involvement in a case.
- Past problems
Has the attorney ever been censured or disciplined by any legal or ethics committees in the past?
- How disagreements are handled
If you and the attorney disagree on accepting a settlement, for example, what happens?
Call your top 3-5 personal injury lawyers. Yes, use the phone.
Next, you’re going to call to set up appointments with at least three personal injury attorneys within easy distance.
While many law firms will accept your questions and case description via a form on their website, it may not be the best way to get your case in front of the best personal injury lawyers for you.
Copying and pasting a paragraph about your situation may be an efficient way to get your questions out to dozens of firms to see if one “sticks”, but how do you know that those few who respond are the best ones for you?
Your web inquiry will likely need to be passed to the appropriate person and even receiving a response may take a lot of time. Sometimes inquiries fall through the cracks.
If one law firm responded when most others didn’t, it could be for any number of reasons. Perhaps even that they are desperate for new clients – which may or may not be a good thing.
Using the phone to speak with someone at the firm will give you an immediate sense of fit, also.
Prepare for your meeting
You’ll need to prepare for that appointment with all the documents you can provide and a complete description of your case.
See FindLaw’s rundown on what your meeting with an attorney will look like.
Print out and take along the checklist of questions we’ve provided above for each attorney you meet with.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!