10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Legal Consultation
1) Be On Time. Attorneys set time aside for consultations. If you are late, the attorney’s time is wasted and you throw off the scheduling resulting in less time for you or forcing other clients to wait beyond their scheduled time to see the attorney. (The next time it could be you!)
2) Be Prepared. Write down the questions that you want answered so that you don’t forget to ask them. If you forget, you may have to make another appointment at an additional cost because you are taking more of an attorney’s time. Attorneys time and advice are their stock in trade. That is what they get paid for.
4) Bring The Documents. If your legal issue involves a contract, lease, deed, lawsuit, etc., bring the documents in question. If you ask for an attorney’s opinion that relates to a document and the attorney cannot read it, all you will get is a guess or you will need to make (and pay for) a second appointment. It may be based on a “standard form”, but everyone generally has their own “standard form” and they are not all the same. The attorney needs to read the document that applies to your case.
4) Fill Out The Forms Your Attorney Presents You. Attorneys often have clients fill out forms before the consultation. They are designed to give the attorney the necessary information quickly and efficiently to help the attorney focus on the issues that may be important in your case. If you don’t fill them out, the attorney will have to waste your consultation time asking for the same information.
Sometimes the client will bring their own information to “make it easier.” It doesn’t. The attorney is not familiar with your organization and may not be interested on some of the information you included. It takes the attorney longer to find what he is looking for in your format which in turn reduces the time and quality of the consultation focusing on the issues that are important to you.
5) Get To The Point. While an attorney needs to know the important facts to advise you properly, your entire family history is not necessary. Your time with the attorney will likely be limited by the attorney’s schedule and you are paying for the attorney’s time. If you use up your time talking about unrelated issues, the attorney may not have enough time to give you the necessary advice or even understand what your concern is.
6) Bring Up The Inconvenient Facts. Clients are often reluctant to disclose facts and issues that they may perceive to be damaging to their situation. The attorney can only give advice based upon the facts presented. If an attorney is not aware of those facts, the advice given may not be correct. Your attorney must have all the fact, both favorable and unfavorable. You can rest assured that if the matter goes to court, the other side will be sure to disclose those issues and your attorney needs to be prepared to deal with them. A surprise in court will not be to your advantage.
7) Listen To What Is Said. Often the attorney will not give you the answer you want to hear. Your options may not be what you want or expect, but the attorney will advise you based upon what your legal recourse actually is. That doesn’t mean that the attorney is not on your side. It’s the attorney’s job to give you good advice not tell you what you want to hear. The law may not support your position. The lawyer may not agree with the law either, but it is the attorney’s job to advise you of what the law is, not what it should be.
8) If You Don’t Understand, Ask For An Explanation. Attorneys, like other people with specialized knowledge, may use terms that are unfamiliar to you without realizing it. The attorney’s role is to explain the legal implications of your situation. If you don’t understand, your time and money are wasted.
9) Know What You Want. If your position is correct, what would it take to satisfy you? Do you want your money back, lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, etc.? You may not be entitled to everything you want, but you need to at least have some idea to help determine how you want to proceed.
10) Decide How Important This Is To You Before You Make The Appointment. Most legal remedies involve either a lawsuit or the potential threat of a lawsuit. Lawsuits cost money and take time. While it may be possible for you to bring a lawsuit against your parents because they made you eat your peas, would it really be worth it? If not, why even make the appointment to seek an attorney’s opinion?
We give consultations about many legal matters and we want you to get the most out of your time with us. Our goal is to both educate and maximize the benefit we can give you when you come to see us. If a legal concern comes up in your life, we would be delighted to have you give us a call so we can help explain your alternatives.