Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Get the Most From Your Initial Consultation with a Lawyer

If you have a legal issue that may require you to hire an attorney, you will want to get the most from your initial consultation. Here are some tips to help you do that.


  1. When you first contact the law firm, be prepared to briefly state what issue you have. (For example:  “I need to file for a child support increase”, or “I am thinking of starting a new business.”  By stating what you need, the staff will be able to direct you to the attorney who is best suited to handle your case.


  1. Prepare a brief summary of the problem and what you hope to accomplish at the consultation appointment.  For example, do you want to have your attorney negotiate for you? Do you want to file suit? Do you want guidance in how to handle the matter yourself? Do you just need to know your rights, duties, and options?


  1. Gather and bring any documentation that might be important to the case, especially if the case involves a contract, deed, or decree.  If you have photos or phone logs, look those over, put them in a folder and be prepared to refer to them. If you have been sued, be sure to bring the original citation that you were served.  Even if you don’t need the documents at the first appointment, gathering them will help you review the facts and will save time later.


  1. Make copies of anything that you want to leave with the lawyer if you decide to hire him/her. Except in rare circumstances, it is best for you to retain your original documents.  Making an additional copy in advance can save time and expense and will allow each of you to review the same document while talking about the case.


  1. Be sure that you know how much the consult will cost and how much time you will be given.   You will want to state your problem, get the attorney’s opinion, and then have a chance to ask any questions that you might have.  A consultation fee will generally be set for a certain period of time (i.e., 30 minutes). For complicated cases, it may be necessary to schedule additional time beyond the allotted time.


Being organized ahead of time will help you get the most from your consult and will help to provide clear communication between you and your attorney.

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