Monday, October 30, 2017

What to do and know before your first meeting with a lawyer

Meeting with lawyers is often something that makes people anxious. I thought it would be helpful if I put together some tips for those meeting with a lawyer for the first time, based on my experience in working with clients. Some are dos and don'ts from meetings that have gone well or gone very poorly. Hope that you find them helpful.

1. Remember that lawyers are just people. There's no reason to be anxious or intimidated. We're here to help try to help you.

2. Schedule an appointment. Lawyers aren't Burger King. You don't get to just walk in and meet with a lawyer. Attorneys have other hearings and meetings, and projects to work on. Schedule an appointment so that you have the lawyer's full attention.

3. Know how long your appointment is scheduled for, so that you can be respectful of the attorney's time and other commitments.

4. Be on-time for your appointment. Again this is a way to be respectful of the attorney's time and other commitments.

5. If you can't make it to your appointment, or have hired another attorney, call and let the staff know that you are cancelling. Don't just no-show. It's rude.

6. If you think that documents, e-mails, text messages, photos, or anything similar are important to your case (or might be), bring them with you.

7. If there are particular people who know something about your case, bring their contact information (name, address, telephone number) with you, so that the attorney can get in touch if need be.

8. If your issue deals with a case already on file, bring the pleadings that you were served with. At a minimum, it is best if the attorney knows where the case is filed, and what the case number is.

9. Be respectful to attorneys and staff. Remember that we're all just people trying to do the best jobs that we can.

10. Don't be afraid to ask about the costs. But remember that attorneys may need to get some information from you about your case before they can set fees, retainers, etc.

11. If you don't understand what the lawyer means, say so and ask questions. Lawyers sometimes use jargon or terminology specific to an area of law, and may not realize that you don't understand.

12. Don't bring children, pets or other distractions to your appointment. Come ready to focus on the issue at hand

13. Remember that lawyers can't change the facts or the law. We can give you the best legal advice possible, and give you an idea of what you can expect. But we can't change the underlying facts or the law that applies to those facts, so we can't always give you what you want to hear.