Lead and uranium have completely different electro-chemical properties. So as David mentioned it does not matter how much uranium the sample had (as long as it is enough to measure) what matters is whether it contained any lead when it formed. Uranium and lead do not form the same kinds of bonds with other elements, so what you do is look for a uranium based crystal or uranium incorporating crystal. Crystals have a very regular bonding pattern, so you know when the crystal formed it was uranium and not lead, becasue lead cannot form those types of bonds with the smale materials uranium can. So when you find lead locked in those crystals you know it is because when it crystallized it was uranium and later decayed into lead.
Most samples used are crystals for this reason. We pick materials that could not normally include lead, by doing this you can add up the total amount of lead and uranium and that will tell you how much uranium there was originally. Zircon is especially common for this becasue it will readily incorporate uranium but strongly rejects lead, so even if there is lead present in the solution (molten rock) in will not be incorporated into the crystal, because it is actively repelled by the crystal surface, thus insuring any lead you find came after the crystal was already solid and the repulsion could not push it out.