What are the questions I need to ask before I choose a tax attorney other than the below?
a. How much experience handling cases like mine and what were the results for them?
b. Time estimate for my case?
c. Fees, hourly or flat rate
1. Is asking them to send evidence of qualifications and past successful cases OK or would lawyers be displeased if asked this?
2. Are solo practitioners better since they have a lower hourly rate? Or, are ones employed by large firms advisable since they can tap into assistance of more experienced attorneys in their firm which a lawyer practicing alone cannot?
3. If referrals from friends are not a option, should you start using the phone book to pick one or search the Web to see which lawyer has a good tax blog, publications record?4. Some tax lawyers are fluent in doing tax forms whereas others are not and advise to use a CPA. Are the ones adept in doing tax forms a better choice? I need assistance with individual income tax for IRS
It is always good to know what your attorney's experience is. Asking for proof of experience may be unusual. Attorneys are not apt to give too much detail about prior clients and their confidential information. Still, if the attorney is adament about not providing anything, this may be a "red flag" that he has exaggerated his experience. If the attorney is giving you straightforward answers about your issues, you should be satisfied that he is competent to handle your matter. On the other hand, if he cannot explain things well or answers every question with "I'll have to get back to you on that", then you may want to look elsewhere.
As a solo practitioner, I can assure you, that our fees are not always cheaper, but we also have contacts at other firms whom we can tap into if needed.
Blogging is not necessarily a good indication of a good lawyer, but rather a tech-savy one. Many good tax attorneys who are older than myself and have much more experience than I, do not blog at all. Moreover, many law firm blogs are written by interns or law-student-clerks.
Random searches from the phone book can be useful, but you should narrow that down with consultations and "feel-out" the lawyer. Try checking out profiles on linked-in or Avvo or other similar sites. See what experience (type, not just length of time in practice) the attorney has and check out any reviews.
As for specific questions, the best indication can sometimes be to have a general comversation. Make sure that you are comfortable with your attorney and he or she seems competent to you. See if he has handled audits, if he is familiar with forms or just does planning. See if he has an LLM in tax and/or has a CPA. The advantage of having a tax attorney filling out the forms is that everything is kept in house. However, this is not a necessity, and some tax attorneys simpley prefer not to deal with this aspect. All tax practitioners, however, should have some knowledge and familiarity with the forms.
My best advice is just to shop around, and find someone with whom you are comfortable.
This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship, Moreover, this attorney is Licensed to practiced law ONLY in LOUISIANA and answers to questions from other jurisdictions or states are meant to provide only general information. Users should contact a local attorney in their jurisdiction or state.
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