The WRONG question to ask when hiring a lawyer

What’s the number one question people ask when hiring a lawyer?

What percentage of cases do you win?

What’s the number one wrong question to ask when you want to find a really, REALLY, good lawyer?

What percentage of cases do you win?

Want to know why this doesn’t get you the best lawyers? Read on:

A high percentage of wins sounds good to many people. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will get a good lawyer.

Lawyers know high percentages impress people.

A lawyer with a 99% success record sounds better than one who wins 75% of cases. It is good marketing to keep a high percentage of wins.

Not good “lawyering,” good “marketing.”

That means lawyers may do anything to keep their percentages up.

How do lawyers keep a high percentage of wins? By turning away cases that may lose!

That means, not only do lawyers evaluate a case based on merit and need and yes even compensation, but also by asking the question, “will it bring down my percentage?”

Why is keeping a high percentage bad for you as a client?

Winning more cases is still winning more cases! Right? Doesn’t it mean I have a greater chance of being successful with this lawyer?

I do not believe so. You do not become a weightlifter by sticking with 20 pound dumbbells. Playing it safe doesn’t build muscles to make you stronger.

You do not become a better lawyer by playing it safe and only taking slam dunk cases. Fighting a tough fight makes you a better fighter. For lawyers, that means taking harder cases, cases that may lose – because it makes them stretch themselves, figure out new strategies, and try harder.

What should you ask instead

Instead of focusing on percent of cases won, ask:

  • How long have you been working in this area?
  • How many of these cases do you take each year?
  • What percentage of your practice are cases in this area?
  • Have you handled cases similar to mine?
  • Walk me through what you would do on my case.

That last one…. is a gold mine! You should get everything you need to know just by asking that one simple question.

This will give you more information about the lawyer that you can actually use to determine if the lawyer is right for you.

Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons

  • tryintobwise

    Tomasz what are inherent dangers of firing your attorney at pre hearing stage my 57 year old girlfriend got a firm that only uses advocates her advocate quit the firm and she was given a new advocate who knew nothing about case {warning sign} when we asked for attorney representation we were told their attorneys don’t represent ssdi cases only advocates they also sent a congrats for winning letter by mistake{another warning sign} She is on retainer we have talked with a real attorney who is willing to take the case but they wont withdraw their fees if we go with other lawyer who seems more willing to petition for his fees to social security but there is no cap I believe on fees that the old firm could charge we would rather go to hearing with a real attorney but don’t know what to do her case has medically supported evidence but we want good representation this new guy seems knowledgeable and good or should we keep what we got and for the best I would like to go new if we can keep old firm from inflating charges they have done nothing but collect local medical records and confer with ss office we are willing to pay but not overpay

    • http://stasiukfirm.com/ TomaszStasiuk

      1) Your current, non-attorney advocate is on retainer? A retainer is more than a fee agreement. You advanced money toward fees? Or toward expenses?

      2) A fee petition can go beyond the cap. However, in my experience judges split the 25% (up to 6k) between the two representatives (50/50, 70/30, 90/10 or whatever). I have not seen a client end up paying more in fees for switching representatives.

      3) Re risks of switching, see http://www.socialsecurityinsider.com/2008/09/should-you-fire-your-lawyer/

      4) I can’t tell you whether switching is a good idea. You know the rep you have and you have formed an opinion. You know the attorney you’ve met and have also formed an opinion. I’ve met neither.