THE FREE CONSULTATION WITH AN ATTORNEY
People generally have a misconception about the first consultation with a lawyer (often a free consultation.)
An attorney consult is not meant to get legal advice as to how to accomplish what you need done. It is not meant to solve the legal problem you may have. It is not a “how to” session.
The purpose of this first consultation is to help you decide if the attorney is right for you. It is a conversation to help you discover if you want to hire the attorney. You might ask the attorney’s background and experience. You might want to ask if he has experience with the type of legal problem you are confronting. It is an opportunity to meet the attorney and decide if you can work with him or her.
You want to know that this is the attorney , the right practitioner for your case.
It is not the time to spell out the particulars of your legal problems, nor to go over the facts in detail.
Come with simple questions to help you decide if this is the right attorney for you.
You might present questions such as whether the attorney regularly handles your type of legal problem, Does the attorney devote a substantial percentage of their practice on your type of legal problem. Ask what type of law the attorney built the practice on. Ask how long the attorney has been engaged with the type of law you need.
The consultation presents the opportunity to discover the attorney’s background. How long has the attorney been practicing? How long has the attorney handled your type of legal problem? Check out the firm’s website before you arrive. Don’t be shy! Legal representation is expensive, so you need to have these questions answered.
At the consultation, you may want to know what to expect in your case and may want to ask the attorney his idea of the expected outcome. You’ll want to get details on what you might be required to do, - do you appear in court? Will you have to testify? How long it will take to resolve the case? Does he expect a settlement on the case? Will there be the possibility of mediation or arbitration? You might want to know how you will be kept informed about the case and progress on the case. Will the attorney be contacting you? What records and documentation will you be expected to provide?
If you have legal questions in the course of the representation, how soon will you hear back if you call or email? How often will the lawyer or firm reach out to you with updates? What information, documents, and material do you need to supply to the attorney?
Make certain you have some understanding of the cost of representation. Will there be a retainer’s agreement? Will money be paid “up front?” Will the retainer cover everything or may there be more bill to pay? Understand the policies as to payment. Does the retainer include court fees and costs? (Such fees go to the court, not to the attorney.)