My brother who lives in Alaska once told me, “It was so cold in Anchorage last year that I saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets.”
Here are two of many questions I recommend you ask before finding out there is a more than one set of hands in your pocket:
How long is your contract?
Is this lawyer going to play “gotcha” with you? Your “B.S. alarm” should go off if you are asked to sign a 15-page contract that includes every possible scenario. Believe it or not, the State Bar of Montana actually encourages its members to use a contract that is 15 pages long!
A lengthy contract simply perpetuates the distrust the public has with people in our profession. These contracts are not written to help you, they are provided to put you on the defensive from the very outset. You should not need a lawyer to review a contract from another lawyer you are thinking of hiring.
Although I am two generations off the farm, in my household, a handshake and looking into someone’s eyes means more than anything on a piece of paper. At our office, we follow a simple principle: You cannot expect anyone, especially a client, to trust you until you trust them first.
We believe our simple, one-page contract in personal injury cases is a reflection of the trust we have in our clients and a statement about the relationship we are about to enter.
Do you like your job?
This is probably the most important question you can ask in the process of hiring a lawyer. There are stresses placed on lawyers that make their jobs difficult. However, happiness among lawyers is not as uncommon as you might think. The ABA Journal completed a study of lawyers who found their work satisfying and were happy in their work. You may want to take a look at the survey and consider the results: A lawyer who likes his or her job is better at that job. A lawyer who likes his or her job is less likely to take that job for granted and less likely to take you for granted as a client.
I really do enjoy my work as an attorney. With the possible exception of playing professional baseball, I cannot imagine a more fun and enjoyable line of work.
In addition to these two questions, I recommend at least eight more questions that you should ask before hiring a personal injury attorney. Our library also has videos, guides, and other information that we hope you find useful.