What Should I Anticipate On My Way To The Initial Consultation?
Lawyers call their first meeting with you a “consultation” or “initial consultation.” The meeting is a chance to discuss your legal issues and some possible resolutions. Importantly, though, it is also your interview of the lawyer and the lawyer’s interview of you to ensure you are both a good match to work together. Good lawyers, and good clients, take their time to select the right match.
The meeting will be nothing like the doctor’s office. There usually won’t be a lot of clients in the waiting room and a few offices will expect you to fill out lengthy paperwork or provide identification cards. This meeting should be far more private and it should give some answers to the questions you have.
Some lawyers charge for these meetings, some do not. Those who do usually charge an amount less than their usual hourly rate or they charge a flat fee. You should definitely expect to know what the lawyer is charging for the consultation before you arrive.
The attorney uses the initial consultation to learn about your case, determine if your expectations are realistic, estimate the cost of your case, and identify your ability to pay for the work needed. This meeting is important from a lawyer’s perspective because they want to make sure you have the resources to pay for their work and to confirm that you have reasonable expectations for your case.
You should also use the meeting to make some decisions. There are thousands of lawyers who hold themselves out as someone that can handle divorce work for you – make sure you take the time to pick the right lawyer for your needs. Some traits you should look for in your lawyer are: someone that cares about the work they do, is responsive to clients and courts, is knowledgeable about the law or willing to learn, and who is experienced for the kind of work you need to be done. In other words, you need to look for a lawyer, you won’t regret hiring a year later if your case becomes complicated. When considering these issues, feel free to discuss the attorney’s background and training; how the attorney is to be paid; what expenses may be involved in the case; how and when you can communicate with the attorney (e.g., personally in the office, by phone, by email, or in writing); and to find out the names of all those persons who will be working on the case (e.g., paralegals, associates, etc.).
The lawyer will also want to discuss your case. The lawyer will, at a minimum, want to ask you about information about the marriage, your jobs and income, your assets and debts, the other party, any history of violence in your marriage, goals in the separation, children, and your overall financial situation. The lawyer should give you time to discuss any other facts you think are or might be relevant to the case. If you are ready to move forward with that process, we ask you to consider using our services.