If you find yourself in a legal dispute, involving anything from
personal injury to breach of contract, you should choose an attorney who is prepared to
go to trial on your behalf. Many cases are settled out of court, but if
yours should end up in a trial, you want a business litigation law firm
with attorneys who are prepared to aggressively argue your case in front
of a jury.
Your defective product lawsuit will likely be settled without going to
court, but you want your personal injury lawyer to be absolutely prepared
if it goes before a jury. Ask your lawyer these questions to gauge how
committed he or she is to preparing for a trial, even if the problem is
expected to be resolved without one.
1. How Many Jury Trials (as Opposed to Bench Trials) Have You Tried?
A bench trial is argued before a judge, with no jury. In a bench trial
the judge rules on matters of law and procedure, deciding credibility
of evidence. By contrast, a jury trial has a jury made up of members of
the community, and they are the fact finders, rendering their verdict
based on the evidence on each side. In a jury trial, the judge handles
questions of law and procedure, but the jury makes the decisions. Preparing
for a jury trial is different than preparing for a bench trial, and you
should ask your lawyer specifically about his or her experience with jury trials.
2. How Much Experience Do You Have as Lead Counsel?
The lawyer you hire from a business litigation law firm may have participated
in several trials, but has he or she acted as lead or solo counsel? Your
real estate dispute may not seem like a big deal compared to business
cases that make the news, but to you the outcome is very significant.
You want someone to represent you who has argued cases like yours as lead counsel.
3. Tell Me About Your Experience With Cases Like Mine
If you have been injured by a
defective product, you want a personal injury lawyer, but more importantly, you want one
who has specific experience with the defective product lawsuit. Ask your
prospective counsel about his or her experience with cases similar to
yours. An experienced lawyer can tell you that there can be big differences
between a personal injury lawsuit due to medical malpractice and one involving,
for example, an injury suffered on a cruise ship.
4. In a Case Like Mine, How Many Lawyers Would You Expect to Send to Court?
The answer to this question is important because it affects how much your
legal representation costs. If multiple lawyers attend court, take depositions,
or participate in other relevant proceedings, your legal expenses can
go up significantly. There may be times when having more than one lawyer
is necessary, but you should talk about this possibility at the beginning
of your business relationship with your law firm.
5. Who Exactly Will Handle My Case and Does He or She Have Trial Experience?
It is possible that your initial consultation with a law firm will be with
a partner, but an associate will actually handle your case. This is fine
as long as that associate has the necessary experience to handle your
case with skill. You should meet this person as soon as possible to evaluate
whether you have good rapport and are comfortable sharing the most intricate
details of your case. Any law firm associate who handles your case should
be thoroughly prepared for a trial even if the possibility of one is small.