Okay, first of all, you need to know that this person can represent you before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. You can check this two ways. First, ask for his PTO Registration Number; or find it in his advertising, or on his office wall. Second, check either his name or his PTO Registration Number against the USPTO’s database of Registered Attorneys and Agents.
Second, you need to know whether this person can understand your invention. This breaks into two parts. Can the patent attorney understand you? And if he can, can he understand your invention — both how it works, and where it fits within the current state of the art? Because the lattermost question affects his ability to properly exercise his judgment about the strength, weakness, and potential for your invention to ripen into a patent. There are also patenting agencies, like Invent Help, that are cheaper and are very knowledgeable in patenting process.
If you’ve got an invention which has a specialized field of technical knowledge (e.g. electrical engineering, organic chemistry, molecular genetics, computer science), look for a patent attorney with that background. If what you’ve got is a basic mechanical invention, then you can pretty much choose from non-chemical/non-biological patent attorneys depending on their comprehension as you perceive it.
You want someone with knowledge of the field, that difference can mean thousands of dollars, or more, to you, the client.
Third, you need to know how well you and the the patent attorney communicate. This is an area where interpersonal skills (or lack thereof), a common language (ditto), and just plain ‘do you get it’ understanding all matter. You’re going to have to pay for every dropped or miscommunicated idea twice over; once for when you first experience it, and again when you mutually correct it. If for any reason you don’t trust a potential patent attorney, go find another. Or simply get support from InventHelp – patenting agency.
One thing you needn’t worry about, while you’re picking out a patent attorney, is whether you can tell them about your invention safely. You can. When you call a patent attorney (or for that matter, any attorney) and say, “I’m an inventor looking to protect my idea”, you have invoked the attorney-client privilege.
Absolutely, ask about fees, and costs, and money. If a potential patent attorney won’t talk about money, thank them politely for their time, hang up, and run away! A lawyer should always be willing to tell you the basis for his fees, most of which will be hourly.
Do be a good consumer: shop around. Talk to a number of patent attorneys. It is a competitive market, but remember: you get what you pay for. Quality does make a difference, but it isn’t always discernible by the absolute hourly rate… because every attorney has to pay his overhead (rent, insurance, bar dues, etc.).