I have spent almost 25 years helping people answer this question. Even though I started my practice at a time of no internet and no social media, the answer is fundamentally the same. At the end of the day, whether you are talking to a lawyer in a large firm, or a sole practitioner, it is you and your (potential) lawyer sitting across a table talking with one another, eye to eye. There is nothing fancy or complicated about it. You are looking for the same thing. A connection. Do you feel the lawyer is able to understand you and will fight for you if necessary? If you feel like you are being talked down to, or that nothing you are concerned about is important, this is not a good fit. If the lawyer likes to use fancy words that leave your head spinning, or if the lawyer has a set-up that makes it hard for you to reach him/her, this is not the lawyer for you. We all have cell phones.
Whether on the phone or in person, you should leave the initial conversation feeling better than you did before. You should know a little more about your legal situation and a few strategies on how to approach it. You should know a little more about your legal situation and a few strategies on how to approach it. You should know how the billing works. You should not feel stupid for asking questions. What I hear people describe is a sense of relief. If you do not have that feeling, move on. There are many lawyers in the sea. Find the right one for you. Do not ignore that little voice inside that says, “this doesn’t feel right”. Eye to eye, person to person, you should feel there is a good connection you can trust. Finally, if you leave the conversation having paid a retainer, and have a small follow-up question, the lawyer should answer you in a timely and comfortable manner.