What Questions Should I Ask A Prospective Illinois Lawyer?

When selecting a lawyer, remember that its not just about what you should ask but also about your comfort level. This is a professional who you will be working very closely with for a certain amount of time to come. Not all lawyers are the same - not by a long shot- and you should have an idea of what personality type you are looking for. Of course, you will want a lawyer who is licensed in Illinois and who is very good at what they do, this goes without saying.  I encourage you to have a consultation with anyone before you hire him or her, speaking directly with the lawyer and not just their staff person. This will help you both get a sense as to whether or not you are the right fit for each other. You will be looking for someone who makes you feel at ease and who you will not be afraid to talk to; and who doesn't make you feel rushed when you have a question!

Other tips for selecting an attorney:

1) Professional Setting: If you are meeting your potential lawyer at the local Starbucks because he or she only works from home and has a PO Box- they are likely either just getting started or may not have the resources to handle your case in a professional manner. That is not to say that they are not the best lawyer for you, but be okay with it- ask them why you are not meeting at their office, maybe they are part time? As for the office.... Is the office clean and neat? That is important. If I were going to hire an attorney and saw papers strewn all over the place, a messy desk and cluttered piles all over the floor, I would wonder about their ability to find MY file.

2) Staff: Is there a live person answering their phones? If your attorney's solution to a receptionist is voicemail during business hours, you may have a very hard time getting in touch.

3) Information: Ask to see articles he or she has written or a copy of their book- or a report of some kind written for the consumer of legal services. Do they provide good information? 

4) While lawyers are not allowed to proclaim themselves "Best Illinois Attorney" or anything like that, still- you ought to look BEYOND the silly slogans- often found on their website next to a picture of a gavel or a courthouse -that say things like:

"Aggressive" 
"Free Consultation" 
"Talk to a Lawyer Immediately!"
"Dependable" 
"Experience & Integrity" 
"Trusted Attorney in  Chicago"
"Protecting Your Rights" 
"High Quality Legal Services"

What are they really saying? Not much. Talk to the lawyer to get beyond the slogans. 

5) Experience. We all have to start somewhere but let's just say that its called the "practice" of law for a reason, and I am very grateful to have more than a few years under my belt.

Good luck!

Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Bankruptcy, Injury, Real Estate & Mediation
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