Questions to Ask Your Prospective Attorney

It As with most professions, attorneys are bound by their Rules of Professional Conduct. It is important that at all times, your counsel observes the Rules of Professional Conduct. The following are important questions to ask your attorney as you consult with him or her in general, and questions that you may want to ask us in the event that you consult with us. These questions are based on our experience in handling numerous client interviews.

  1. How do you handle the fees for an initial client consultation?

At Michael W. Nalli, P.C., our office provides all new clients with an initial 30 minute consultation fee of charge.  If this initial consultation exceeds 30 minutes, then our office will charge the client for the amount of time exceeding 30 minutes multiplied by our existing hourly rate.  For example, if an initial consultation for an elder law matter takes one (1) hour, the client can be expected to be charged $112.50 ($225.00/hour multiplied by 0.50 hours).

  1. What are the fees involved and how are they calculated?

Typically, attorneys may charge clients a number of different ways, depending upon the type of case. Clients can be charged a fee based on an hourly rate, a flat or fixed fee, or a contingent fee.

In any case, the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct require all fee arrangements to be placed in writing as soon as practicable after undertaking the representation of the client. At Michael W. Nalli, P.C., we provide all clients with written fee agreements as promptly as possible so that the client understands from the beginning of the representation the manner and extent to which they will be charged.  Since fee arrangements will differ, depending on the type of legal matter, it is impossible to determine the appropriate free arrangement until after an initial client consultation.

  1. What types of cases or areas of law does my attorney typically handle?

In an ideal world, a person’s family attorney would be equipped to handle all of a family’s legal needs. Unfortunately, in the complex world that we live in today, not only is such an approach not practical, but it is impossible for an attorney to effectively represent a client in every facet of the law. At Michael W. Nalli, P.C., we have set forth the areas of the law with which we emphasize our practice. We welcome prospective clients to contact us with their legal needs, and of course, if it is an area of the law that we do not typically practice in or have little experience, we will work our hardest to refer the prospective client to competent counsel in that particular area of the law.

  1. How long does it take to return telephone calls?

At Michael W. Nalli, P.C., we strive to return all client telephone calls within 18-24 hours after receiving them. We recognize that sometimes due to court commitments or client consultations, it is impossible for us to return telephone calls within minutes or hours after receipt of them; however, because excellent client service is a hallmark of our representation as well as an obligation under the Rules of Professional Conduct, we will strive to return your telephone calls as promptly as possible.

  1. What is the best method to communicate with the attorney?

In this information age that we live in, there are numerous methods of communication. Which method is the best is based on which method is most comfortable to you the prospective client. We encourage our prospective clients to advise us in our initial meeting as to what method of communication that they prefer to communicate with us (i.e. telephone, fax, email, or letter), recognizing the limitations that each method may have.

  1. Will any private or confidential information provided to my counsel be disclosed?

Under no circumstances will any private or confidential communications that you provide to your attorney be disclosed without your express written consent. Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys are bound to observe the confidentiality of communications with the client.

  1. I know friends and loved ones who have handled their legal matters, such as writing a Will, handling a criminal case, or settling an estate without the assistance of legal counsel. Do I really need an attorney to handle legal matters?

While there are numerous legal proceedings and/or documents with which a person may conceivably handle on one’s own without the assistance of counsel, without competent legal counsel, a person may not be aware of intricacies or pitfalls in the law, or more importantly, may not be aware of legal rights that one may have in a given circumstance without the assistance of competent legal counsel. Since areas of law change frequently as new cases are decided by our appellate courts and new or revised statutes are enacted by our lawmakers, consulting competent legal counsel is strongly recommended to ensure that a person is aware of the correct status of the law in a given area.

  1. Will the client get copies of all important papers and letters relative to my case?

The Rules of Professional Conduct require communication between attorney and client, which includes the obligation that the attorney keep the client informed as to the progress of one’s case as well as important events within a case. As such, clients should receive copies of all important papers or letters relative to their case.

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