How much experience does the attorney you're considering have? Keep in mind that the number of years an attorney has been "licensed" does not necessarily equal his experience level. For example, an attorney who has been licensed for 1-2 years, may have been a paralegal for 20 years before deciding to become an attorney. In that situation, that attorney may have a wealth of knowledge available to them. At the same time, however, a less-experienced attorney may be able to gain a deeper understanding of the legal issues affecting your case because of the research that they would likely do just because they haven't been practicing as long as more experienced attorneys.
Yes, this is different than experience. An experienced attorney may not be a knowledgeable attorney, and a knowledgeable attorney is not necessarily experienced. How many different areas of law does the attorney your considering practice in? A general practitioner may not have a deep understanding of some of the finer points of a specific area. For example, a Real Estate Attorney may have knowledge of Criminal Law, but may not know of any special defenses available in a DUI case. This does NOT mean that a general practitioner cannot represent you well in a criminal case, they may be able to do an excellent job.
This is an important aspect to consider and you shouldn't be afraid to ask about it. If you ever have a question about your case, will you speak with the attorney you hire, the office paralegal, or the secretary? While each of those individuals should be able to convey the information properly and correctly, you may be comfortable speaking with only the attorney. If that is the case, can you be accommodated? If the firm has more than one attorney, who will be "in charge" of your case?
#2: The Work
Who will be doing the work? The attorney, the paralegal, or someone else? Many firms have at least one paralegal to do research, write motions, or prepare filings. Some others, usually solo practitioners, do not. In the case of a solo practitioner, it is the attorney who is not only representing you in court, but also preparing any documents that will be submitted on your behalf to the court and doing the research necessary for those documents. Where a paralegal is handling those matters, they will do so under the supervision of the firm attorney(s), though the amount of supervision may vary greatly from firm to firm.
The question comes down to what are you comfortable with?
The number one thing to consider when deciding which attorney to hire is how comfortable you are with that attorney and his/her office and staff? An Attorney/Client relationship is just like any other relationship, perhaps even more important. An Attorney must have the trust of his Client, and the Client must have the trust of the Attorney. When hiring an attorney, you will likely be providing intimate details about your life, family and/or business so you must be able to confide in your attorney and know that he/she is working hard for you.
You must be comfortable with your attorney in order for both of you to be successful in your case and your relationship.