Before Contacting a New Attorney.
- Review the attorney's website. See how many of the questions below are answered.
- Ask around. Other lawyers and friends can be a good source of information.
- Check the attorney's disciplinary history at the New York State Unified Court System site.
- Do a google search under the attorney's name. Please be careful of reviews, ratings and rankings as some are engineered; you can pay attention to other comments, but remember that disgruntled people post more often than satisfied ones.
- Consider that attorneys that provide "free" seminars are often doing so to create a large volume of business.
- Also consider that attorneys that advertise heavily obtain funds for promoting themselves from clients' fees.
A Few Questions You May Wish To Ask Before Interviewing a New Attorney in Person.
- Do you provide a free consultation?
- If not, how much will you charge?
- How long will the consultation last?
- How long have you been practicing Estate Law?
- How much of your time is spent practicing Estate Law? What other areas do you practice in?
- What should I bring to the first meeting?
Questions You May Wish To Ask During the Interview.
- How many Estate clients do you currently have? Do you have time to accept more?
- How many estates have you administered?
- How do you charge? On an hourly or fixed fee basis? If hourly, what is your rate?
- Do you delegate your work to others? If so, explain what is delegated and when, and how much is charged.
- Will I always be meeting with you if I become your client?
- If you charge hourly, describe the types of entries I might see on my bill. Do you have a minimum time entry?
- Do you charge for disbursements such as postage, fax and so on?
- Do you write an engagement letter for me to sign before beginning work?
- Will your engagement letter state what the expected fee will be?
- Do you require a retainer before beginning work? If so, how much?
- Do you have any close relationships with banks, brokerage houses or insurance agents that you recommend often? Who are they? Why are they recommended?
- Are you able to prepare estate tax returns and fiduciary income tax returns for Estates? If not, what accountant(s) do you use?
- Do you keep hard files or electronic files or both?
- Where do you store clients' executed Estate planning documents?