Such issues as intellectual property, franchise agreements and service contracts require special knowledge and skills, says Leach. Find out if the attorneys you're screening have worked with a company similar to yours and if you can speak with any previous clients. While some attorneys might be offended by this request, "they shouldn't be put off if you ask them to give a couple of names," Leach says.
If you want your attorney to be prompt and easily accessible, be sure to ask how long he or she takes to get back to you when you call, Leach says. Sometimes, you have to go through a paralegal first and may not connect with the lawyer for several days.
This not only probes your understanding of department and corporate missions by also indirectly checks into your ability to function as a team member to get the work done.
Some attorneys prefer to correspond primarily via email or phone; others don't communicate much beyond scheduled office meetings. You're likely going to want to work with someone who is available to answer your questions as they come up, so be sure to find out what their communication style is and whether it works for you.
This is one of the most important questions you will have to answer. The interviewer is looking for examples of your professional development, perhaps to judge your future growth potential, so you must tell a story that demonstrates it. Other skills you may want to demonstrate here are listening skills, honesty and adherence to procedures.
To avoid surprises when your attorney's bill arrives for the first time, find out exactly how lawyers bill, Leach recommends. Some may bill for minimum increments of 10 minutes, while others might not bill for less than an hour. Also, ask about other expenses such as research and paralegal fees.
Most lawyers assign work to paralegals, but Sweeney cautions against attorneys who delegate an extensive amount. Taking the time to explain something to your lawyer, then having it re-explained to a paralegal could cost you more money and might muddle the message, she says. While some work can certainly be delegated, be sure that you're clear on who will be handling which tasks.
This question is not geared solely to rate your progress; it also rates your self-esteem. Be positive, yet do not give the impression you have already done your best work. Make the interviewer believe you see each day as an opportunity to learn and contribute and that you see the environment at the company as conducive to your best efforts.
A possible throw away, but the interviewer wants to see how serious you are. Know the list of other firms. Cold. Don't blow names. Do not infer that Seattle is one stop on your coffee tour through the Northwest.
Your answer should be, “I have contacted the 5 or 6 leading firms that match my practice interest and background most closely.” If pressed for specifics mention the names, accurately and without bravado.
Find out if your prospective attorney is working for other clients such as competitors or former business partners, who could pose a conflict of interest. If so, problems could arise, and you may not feel comfortable sharing competitive information with the attorney.