Here is one question you should always ask when you are looking for a lawyer to help you:
What percentage of your practice is handling my kind of problem?
Generally, you do not want to choose someone who spends more than one-third of his/her time doing something else handling your case. When you want a job done right, you want a specialist.
However, do not be swayed by win/loss ratios.
I know this is counterintuitive. You want to win your case. So, shouldn’t you look for a lawyer that … umm, WINS CASES like yours? Isn’t a lawyer who wins 9 cases out of 10 better than a lawyer who only wins 5 out of 10.
Because lawyers know you are shopping based on win/loss ratios. It’s no secret! Just like sellers on Amazon want 5 star ratings on their products to attract buyers, lawyers know that the first three questions out of potential client’s mouth are going to be:
- How many cases do you win?
- Have you done a case like mine?
- Is there a bathroom on this floor?
What’s more, lawyers can skew the numbers to get a higher win/loss number.
- Lawyers can take easier cases and refuse harder cases (“We’d love to take your case but we are too busy at the moment.” Note: lawyers are never too busy to make money. If you hear a lawyer say they’re too busy, your case is too hard.
- Lawyers drop cases that don’t develop as well as they would like. If there is too little evidence, or the evidence makes the case look like too much like a gamble, the lawyer may withdraw from the case.
- Lawyers drop cases if they don’t like the judge assigned to the case. “Only approves 30% of cases? I think we’re too busy for this case.”
Many lawyers will only take easy cases. So, winning 9 out of 10, may actually mean they dropped the ball on an “easy” case. Does that 9 out 10 wins still sound good?
Other lawyers take on the really tough cases that no other lawyer will touch. If that lawyer wins 5 out of those 10 cases, that may be an impressive achievement.
So, just remember: it’s not the number of wins that counts. It’s the how hard the cases are that counts.
What should you ask instead
Instead of focusing on win/loss ratios, 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.
What’s your go-to question when you need a lawyer?