Some Suggested Questions to Ask a Prospective Attorney

Find Your State

Know the laws in your state that protect LBGT people and people living with HIV.

Attorney's Background and Experience

  1. How many years have you been in practice?
  2. Do you have any experience with [your legal issue]? With issues of sexual orientation and/or HIV? How many cases in this area? How did these cases turn out? Have you represented other lesbian/gay/transgender/HIV+ clients?
  3. Do you have any personal doubts about the equality rights of gays/lesbians and/or people with HIV/AIDS?
  4. Are you familiar with the special strategy problems which often exist in cases involving sexual orientation and/or AIDS? How do you feel about the personal and political decisions I may make that will affect the strategy of my case, like being open about my sexual orientation or living with a lover during the course of my case?
  5. Are you aware of the types of arguments that will be used against me?
  6. Are you willing to accept help (for example, sample briefs, articles, lists of cases, transcripts of other hearings, lists of experts, consultations) from lesbian and gay organizations?
  7. How do you feel about using expert witnesses on issues of sexual orientation? Have you ever used one in such a case as this?
  8. Who will be doing most of the work on my case – you or an assistant? What experience does your assistant have with this type of case? Will you consult with another lawyer? Can I meet the other people involved in my case?

Keeping Me Informed

  1. How will we stay in touch as the case proceeds? When can you be reached? What about weekends and evenings?
  2. Will you consult with me before making major decisions about the case? Will you keep me up-to-date on significant developments in the case? Will you provide me with regular updates about the case?

My Legal Options, My Chances of Success, and Other Considerations

  1. What are the different avenues or strategies that might be open to me to resolve this problem? What are the pros and cons of these different approaches?
  2. What will I personally be required to do in the course of pursuing this case? What information about me may be at issue if I pursue this case? (E.g., will I have my deposition taken, undergo medical or other evaluations, have my employment/personal history disclosed?)
  3. What are my chances of success? What can I expect to win if the case succeeds? What other factors do you advise that I weigh in deciding whether or how to pursue this matter?
  4. How long do you expect this case to take? Will you prepare an estimated timetable?

Attorneys' Fees and Costs

  1. Is there an initial consultation fee?
  2. Do you require a retainer?
  3. How do you bill for your services? Do you charge an hourly rate? What are the hourly rates for you and others who would work on my case?
  4. Do you accept contingency fee arrangements?
  5. What other costs might be involved?
  6. Will you bill periodically as the case progresses? Will you supply itemized bills?
  7. What do you estimate will be my total attorneys' fees and costs?