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What are Good Questions to Ask a Potential Attorney?

Asking Questions

If you’re looking to retain a lawyer to defend you on a case, there are certain things that it would probably behoove you to ask them. It’s helpful to have someone that you relate to and who you can tell your story to, tell what’s going on in your life, and to have someone who cares about you and genuinely wants to help you. But retaining a lawyer is not just about you feel good about emotionally, you should also feel good about their ability to fully represent you in court. It is to your benefit to request information from or about a potential attorney which can tell you what experience that attorney has and whether their experience will work to your advantage in court.

The first question you should ask is: How many cases like yours has that lawyer or law firm handled? Alternately, ask: what percentage of their practice is devoted to defending those type of cases? At the Complete Legal Defense Team, all we do is defense: we do DUI Defense, we do Criminal Defense, we do Federal Criminal Defense. We don’t do any civil cases, real estate closings, divorce, or business contracts. What that means is that everybody in our firm is trained in and has the experience necessary to handle defense cases. 

Next, you should ask: has that lawyer or law firm actually tried your kind of case? Have they had trials where people are found not guilty, or have they plea bargained all their cases? How many actual trials have they conducted? At the Complete Legal Defense Team, it’s a requirement that our lawyers have had a significant number of trials, and by trials we mean trials that went to a jury verdict. Our lawyers have tried dozens, maybe hundreds of cases. People assume that all lawyers have tried cases, but that’s not true and you need to ask that question because when  defending somebody on a domestic violence, or any specific type of charge, the lawyer who has tried those cases successfully is known to the prosecutor, and also sometimes to the judge as well, and they have more clout. Surprisingly, a lot of lawyers have practiced in the area of criminal defense in South Carolina – some of whom have never tried a case in their life. You don’t want to be their first one.

A good follow-up to that question would be: what is that lawyer’s or law firm’s track record? Do they usually win? Lawyers who have tried cases to jury verdicts are more likely to get a better result because the prosecutor knows that they’re not going to fold up. If push comes to shove, they will try that case and the likelihood that you’ll be acquitted is great because of that lawyer’s experience and skill level and ability to try your case and defend you. Of course, most cases don’t go to trial, but the result that you get outside of trial is usually driven by what would happen if you went to trial. All plea bargaining comes from that: if the prosecution doesn’t think that your attorney can go to trial and win the case, then often the plea bargain/the plea offered/the possibility of dismissal, whatever it’s going to be is just not as good.

Another good set of questions you should ask a potential attorney is: how many people are going to be working on my file? Does the attorney/law firm have staff? Is there someone to always answer the phone or are you going to get an answering machine? How will you get your questions answered? At our firm, we have created a very reliable system where you can reach us. There will be someone who’s trained and experienced who can answer your questions. We have a system for that.

And there are other questions you should ask as well, for example: What should you expect from the lawyer/firm? What kind of outcome is likely? What are possible outcomes that your firm has gotten for people in the past? Those are questions that are very important, and we would suggest that you ask those in the process of deciding who you would like to defend you.

Obviously, retaining a lawyer is a very important decision to make. It’s something which most people are going to take as seriously as they can. It can be a little bit daunting at times – but you can research people online a lot more now than in the past, you can see what their record is. But, still, don’t be shy about asking them! Don’t be shy about asking: how many cases have you handled? How many cases have you tried? What does your track record look like? Can you help me? Do you feel comfortable helping me?

We recommend that you do the research, take your time in picking someone, and get the best lawyer that you can afford for your situation. If you would to find out how we might be able to help you, contact us at the Complete Legal Defense Team, and we can begin to answer those questions for you.

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