How to Hire a Lawyer: Questions to Ask When Interviewing Attorney Candidates |

How to Hire a Lawyer: Questions to Ask When Interviewing Attorney Candidates


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To protect your interests in any legal matter, you will require a lawyer no matter whether you are currently planning your business or have already begun. A qualified attorney can provide legal advice to help you navigate the requirements of various business matters and can represent you in court if you are sued. Companies have the option of hiring law firms, solo practitioners, or in-house counsel. It is imperative, however, that you interview with your lawyer before you choose one.
Since interviewing attorneys can be an intimidating process, we have prepared a few tips for hiring lawyers, including what areas you should look at and what kind of process you need to use. Use these tips to help build a healthy attorney-client relationship from the beginning.

The process of hiring a lawyer should include great questions.  

All types of attorneys can be found using any number of sources, including lawyer referral services that provide lists of attorneys. The following criteria should guide you when asking questions of lawyer candidates:
  • What does your company need?
  • Experience in your industry and expertise as a lawyer.
  • The candidate's relationships with other lawyers and legal experts.
  • Whether the candidate has experience with your competition.
  • Willingness of the candidates to discuss the law with clients.
  • The lawyer's fee arrangement.

It is also essential to consider the candidate's general attitude and purpose. In your discussions with the lawyer, you need to determine whether they are more focused on bringing in new clients, keeping existing clients happy, or doing actual work for your company. You should hire a candidate who demonstrates at least the last two characteristics.
If you want to hire an attorney, you need to decide if you like the lawyer you are talking to. You will need to speak with your attorney from time to time since he may have to adjust to a vastly different corporate culture. You can ask personal questions, such as the law schools they considered when applying, where they worked as a junior lawyer, and whether they had an experienced lawyer as a mentor. You can also ask them to describe a common situation they have trouble with.

How to Interview an Attorney  

The following three tactics should be used when interviewing an attorney:

Have a one-on-one interview with the candidate. 

Interviewing attorney candidates in this manner is the best option. Regardless of whether the attorney fits your company's culture, it is your business, so it is up to you to find one who will protect your interests above all else.

Ask questions about behavior. 

Testing the candidate will help you determine their past behavior since it is often a good predictor of their future behavior. If the lawyer's answers to behavioral questions satisfy you, then you can consider hiring him or her.

Negotiate rates beforehand.

It may not seem worthwhile to hire an expensive lawyer, but not having one could hurt you later. Lawyers can charge you a flat fee, by the hour, or extra for completing a task, but you must negotiate with them upfront.
What should you ask an attorney during your interview?

If you are seeking legal representation, what questions must you ask candidates?
  • What experience do you have in this industry?
  • Do you know anyone who specializes in this area of law?
  • Did you ever have any dealings with my competitors?
  • Can you share a time when you failed to deliver for a client?
  • Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to get something done.

What experience do you have in this industry?

Before hiring an experienced attorney, it would be best if you interviewed the types of lawyers who are knowledgeable regarding your industry. If you work with deals, you should hire an attorney with contract expertise. If you create intellectual property, your attorney should be knowledgeable in copyright and trademark laws. A good lawyer will also keep you, your staff, and your business up to date on your industry's relevant legalities. By talking directly with you and your team and sending you memos and other literature, your lawyer can accomplish this.

If you can, prepare some legal questions for the candidate to see what kind of strategic advice they give about specific legal situations. Additional questions that are specific to your business will help you find the best attorney who can provide superior representation in a reasonable time.

Do you know anyone who specializes in this area of law?

It is not unusual for you to need another business attorney with relevant experience to handle a rare or unusual legal issue. Your attorney may refer you to an expert if you learn that the attorney you are interviewing only focuses on specific aspects of the legal process.

Did you ever have any dealings with my competitors?

If you interview a candidate who has worked for the competition, that means this person likely has the necessary experience for your business or industry. Nevertheless, be cautious when hiring a rival's attorney because there could be conflicts of interest.

Can you share a time when you failed to deliver for a client?

One follow-up question in response to this may be: "What do you think went wrong in that situation, and what are you going to do differently now?" With this question, you will be able to learn about the candidate's attitude toward self-evaluation.

Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to get something done.

The attorney's response to this question will show how willing they are to do all they can to help their client. Although a lawyer may be bound by attorney-client confidentiality, they may still be able to give you general details on what he or she can do to help you, for example, if you are facing a lawsuit.

Is there anything I should know about negotiating attorney prices?

If your lawyer charges an hourly rate or a monthly retainer, ask whether a flat fee is appropriate or if a price is to be quoted beforehand. Make sure to also ask whether there is any contingency fee associated with their legal services and determine who will be responsible for paying filing fees. At the same time, make sure to determine what methods of payment will be used. When you sign a contract with a lawyer, ask them to hold back between 10%-20% until they deliver, or make sure they give you the deposit back if you fail.
Also, ensure that the lawyer will not waste the money you paid them and that he will not hold it up indefinitely. It can be amazingly easy to find yourself in an undesirable financial situation if you do not agree on every detail upfront. When choosing between payment arrangements such as ownership stakes or fees, choose the latter.
After all the details have been worked out and you have chosen this lawyer, make sure you get every detail of the agreement with your lawyer in writing. To start working with your attorney, you will need to sign a contract with all billing policies outlined.
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About Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes is a prominent figure in the legal placement industry, known for his expertise in attorney placements and his extensive knowledge of the legal profession.

With over 25 years of experience, he has established himself as a leading voice in the field and has helped thousands of lawyers and law students find their ideal career paths.

Barnes is a former federal law clerk and associate at Quinn Emanuel and a graduate of the University of Chicago College and the University of Virginia Law School. He was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist at the University of Chicago and a member of the University of Virginia Law Review. Early in his legal career, he enrolled in Stanford Business School but dropped out because he missed legal recruiting too much.

Barnes' approach to the legal industry is rooted in his commitment to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. He believes that the key to success in the legal profession is to be proactive, persistent, and disciplined in one's approach to work and life. He encourages lawyers to take ownership of their careers and to focus on developing their skills and expertise in a way that aligns with their passions and interests.

One of how Barnes provides support to lawyers is through his writing. On his blog,, and, he regularly shares his insights and advice on a range of topics related to the legal profession. Through his writing, he aims to empower lawyers to control their careers and make informed decisions about their professional development.

One of Barnes's fundamental philosophies in his writing is the importance of networking. He believes that networking is a critical component of career success and that it is essential for lawyers to establish relationships with others in their field. He encourages lawyers to attend events, join organizations, and connect with others in the legal community to build their professional networks.

Another central theme in Barnes' writing is the importance of personal and professional development. He believes that lawyers should continuously strive to improve themselves and develop their skills to succeed in their careers. He encourages lawyers to pursue ongoing education and training actively, read widely, and seek new opportunities for growth and development.

In addition to his work in the legal industry, Barnes is also a fitness and lifestyle enthusiast. He sees fitness and wellness as integral to his personal and professional development and encourages others to adopt a similar mindset. He starts his day at 4:00 am and dedicates several daily hours to running, weightlifting, and pursuing spiritual disciplines.

Finally, Barnes is a strong advocate for community service and giving back. He volunteers for the University of Chicago, where he is the former area chair of Los Angeles for the University of Chicago Admissions Office. He also serves as the President of the Young Presidents Organization's Century City Los Angeles Chapter, where he works to support and connect young business leaders.

In conclusion, Harrison Barnes is a visionary legal industry leader committed to helping lawyers achieve their full potential. Through his work at BCG Attorney Search, writing, and community involvement, he empowers lawyers to take control of their careers, develop their skills continuously, and lead fulfilling and successful lives. His philosophy of being proactive, persistent, and disciplined, combined with his focus on personal and professional development, makes him a valuable resource for anyone looking to succeed in the legal profession.

About BCG Attorney Search

BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit

Harrison Barnes does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for attorneys and law students each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can attend anonymously and ask questions about your career, this article, or any other legal career-related topics. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

Harrison also does a weekly free webinar with live Q&A for law firms, companies, and others who hire attorneys each Wednesday at 10:00 am PST. You can sign up for the weekly webinar here: Register on Zoom

You can browse a list of past webinars here: Webinar Replays

You can also listen to Harrison Barnes Podcasts here: Attorney Career Advice Podcasts

You can also read Harrison Barnes' articles and books here: Harrison's Perspectives

Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.

Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.

To read more career and life advice articles visit Harrison's personal blog.

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