Preparing for your initial consultation with an attorney can be a daunting process. The following tips should help you get a better sense of how the initial consultation works. Essentially, the attorney is attempting to get a sense of what your legal issue is, what has happened to you during the course of your scenario, and how it is that he or she can help you.
That being said, here are some general pointers about your initial attorney consultation. Keep in mind that these meetings may differ depending on the practice area and scope of potential representation.
For your initial meeting, try to:
- Organize Your Thoughts-- try to make an outline of the points that you want to cover regarding your case. This will help you steer the conversation to learn if and how the attorney can help you, and having a list to refer back to will ensure that you don't leave any key elements out.
- Bring Relevant Documents-- while I would highly recommend asking an attorney what documents they think would be relevant for your initial consultation, common sense will usually help you decide what to bring. For example, if you are contesting the terms of a contract, not only should you bring the actual document itself, but any written correspondence with the opposing party, such as emails. These documents will help the attorney get a better sense of the case, and also whether or not they can help you. Keep in mind, however, that during the initial consultation, the attorney is only looking to get a general picture. You do not need to bring every document under the sun, so to speak.
- Be Honest-- keep in mind that anything you tell the attorney in the course of determining whether or not they can represent you is protected by client confidentiality rules, even if you don't hire that attorney. Thus, you should feel free to be completely honest and straightforward about your case. This is incredibly important because if facts come out later on, it can not only strain your relationship, but it can also potentially derail your position. Even if you feel that you have committed a crime or been dishonest in the past, you are still entitled to legal representation.
- Try to Keep an Open Mind-- the attorney may not see your case as favorably as you had expected, and the resolution of the case may not be as straightforward as you might hope. That being said, if you decide to hire the attorney, they are going to represent you as zealously as ethical rules allow. Try to keep in mind that an integral part of being a great attorney is being able to see the weaknesses in any given argument, and being able to anticipate potential counterarguments, and foretell the various ways in which a case might ultimately be resolved.
- Make Sure there is Chemistry-- obviously the chemistry requirement is not the same you might expect from a life partner, you want to at least make sure that the attorney is someone that you get along with enough to be in contact with frequently. Ask yourself whether this attorney is someone you can see yourself interacting with months or potentially years down the line. Especially in sensitive areas such as Family Law, where typical cases can take 2-3 years to be resolved, you want to make sure that you hire an attorney that you trust. Remember that you have the right to interview as many attorneys as it takes to find the right legal "fit."
You can find additional helpful tips for your initial consultation here.
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