Choosing an attorney is a very personal decision; as with a doctor or other professional, the advice and assistance you get depends on how well you communicate with the professional — and that often depends on how comfortable you are when working with the professional. >Every attorney should be willing to answer the following questions, without hesitation.

These questions are copied from the article “Factors to Consider When Selecting an Attorney to Assist You With Planning For the Future,” which appeared in the September 1995 issue of the SALA NewsLine – Elder Law Education Edition newsletter, published by Senior Adult Legal Assistance, in Santa Clara County.

  1. How long has the attorney been in practice?
  2. How long has the attorney been practicing in the local area?
  3. How much of the attorney’s practice is devoted to the cases of the type presented by you?
  4. Is the attorney a State Bar Certified Specialist in Probate, Estate Planning, and Trust Law?
  5. Does the attorney carry professional liability (malpractice) insurance?
  6. Does the attorney offer free initial consultations?
  7. How does the attorney determine his or her fee?
  8. Will the attorney provide a written fee agreement?
  9. Does the attorney require a retainer?
  10. How much time does the attorney anticipate will pass before the case or work is completed?
  11. What exactly will the attorney be doing for me?
  12. How often will the attorney communicate with me to keep me informed of his or her progress?
  13. What, if any, help does the attorney need from me?
  14. Does the attorney appear knowledgeable?
  15. Is he or she friendly and easy to talk to?
  16. Is the attorney understandable and able to explain the law clearly?
  17. Is the attorney someone I think I can trust with my case?