Hiring your lawyer
Find out as much as you can about the lawyer before you hire him or her. Ask around for a recommendation, do an Internet search for their name, and look up their discipline record on the state bar's website.
Before you call, prepare a short written summary of your case and write down your questions. When you make the call, have all relevant details written down in front of you before you talk to them. Lawyers will ask questions before they decide whether to take a case; make sure you are ready with answers.
Once you’ve settled on a lawyer, get a written fee agreement that shows precisely how you will be charged and what costs you will be liable for.
If you are hiring a lawyer to work for you on a contingency fee basis, remember that just because you are not paying your lawyer up front for his or her services does not mean that you don’t need to review the fee agreement carefully.
After you’ve chosen your lawyer
Have all the details of your case at your fingertips whenever you speak to your lawyer. This is especially important in the first few meetings. Be honest about your case, regardless of whether you think the information helps you or not.
The only way to keep costs down is to use your lawyer efficiently. Never meet with or call your lawyer without a list of questions in front of you. Take notes. Not only will note-taking help prevent you from asking the same question more than once, it will give you an accurate record of what advice your lawyer gave you.
Make sure everything your lawyer explains to you about your case makes sense. Too often clients are afraid to ask questions when something isn’t clear to them. If you don’t understand, you can’t make good decisions.
Stay active in your case. Ask for regular updates. Educate yourself about the law. Not only will this help you better understand what your lawyer is doing on your behalf, but it will empower you to ask better questions of your lawyer and to have realistic expectations about the outcome you can expect.