The first time you sit down and talk with an attorney about your case, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. The initial consultation is extremely important, as it will set the tone for the entire attorney-client relationship. It’s important to get things off on the right foot.
Here are five things to remember when going into an initial consultation with an attorney.
1. Do your research
The Internet is a gift in this case. Don’t skimp on using it. Surf over to the attorney’s website and read everything. Look at review websites and read testimonials. Get as much information as possible before hiring the attorney, and make sure he or she is the right fit for you.
2. Call ahead
Many people might not think to take this step, but it’s an important one. Attorneys may have dedicated offices, but that doesn’t mean they will always be there. You might show up and be met with a full calendar; in fact, this is a very likely scenario. Calling ahead will allow you to get a spot on this full calendar, a spot dedicated to your consultation.
3. Bring your documents
Consultations often cost money, so don’t take up an attorney’s time — especially extra time — by forgetting your documents. These documents will no doubt include everything relevant to your particular case. These can include insurance policies, police reports, evidence and photos related to your case. If in doubt, bring it along.
4. Don’t hide anything
Your attorney needs to know everything. Even if you’re embarrassed or ashamed about a certain part of the case or about your life in general, keeping this from your attorney will only come back to bite you. Your lawyer needs to know everything. If you keep anything from your attorney, opposing counsel could use it later in the case and catch your attorney off guard. This is no good for anybody. Disclose everything, and your attorney will work with you.
5. Ask every question you have
The consultation is your big chance to ask questions. Don’t skimp on them. If you have questions, make the most of your attorney’s time — and your own — and get your questions answered. If you’re wondering about anything, chances are your attorney will be able to answer these questions. Furthermore, if you came up with any questions during step one (do your research), get them answered during the consultation.
There’s a lot to keep in mind when heading into your first consultation with an attorney. The most important thing, however, is to be prepared, both in what you bring and in what you ask. Plan ahead, get on the schedule, bring the necessary documentation and be forthcoming. This will help your consultation go smoothly and get the attorney-client relationship off to a healthy start.