Updated: Jul 22
Meeting with a lawyer for the first time to discuss your personal matter can often be an anxiety-inducing experience, especially if you haven't yet hired a lawyer. However, we understand that clients feel more at ease when they have an idea of what to expect from the initial consultation.
So, what exactly is an initial consultation? It's your first meeting with a legal professional, providing you with the opportunity to discuss your current issue and gain insight into the legal services available to you. Additionally, it allows the legal professional to assess whether they can assist you effectively and whether their services are the right fit for your needs.
While each lawyer may have their own approach, there are key elements that are typically part of your consultation.
During this stage, you, as the client, will have the chance to share your story. The lawyer will gather relevant information from you, asking questions about why you're seeking legal advice and any details from your life that may impact the desired outcome. Depending on the matter, you might need to provide biographical information about yourself, your spouse, children, relationships, lifestyle, matrimonial home, income, employment history, and financial details like pensions, investments, and accounts.
To offer you proper recommendations and assess your situation, the legal professional will likely ask follow-up questions and clarify any details mentioned during your discussion. It's crucial to be honest during this stage. Remember, lawyers and legal professionals are not there to judge you but rather to assist you during this difficult time. The more open and truthful you are, the better they can provide suitable recommendations. Assessment
The lawyer will provide a preliminary assessment after gathering information, explaining relevant laws, outlining options, and discussing pros and cons, time frames, and the likelihood of achieving the desired outcome.
Make sure to ask any questions you may have so that you can ensure you have left the meeting fully understanding your options and what assistance the lawyer is able to provide in your particular case.
Cost and Next Steps
The legal professional will also discuss the cost associated with each option they have recommended and the corresponding fees for their services. They will explain the firm’s retainer agreement that outlines their hourly rate, initial retainer fee, how billing will work if you choose to move forward and the bounds of the lawyer-client relationship.
Once all this information has been established, the lawyer will outline the subsequent steps, important deadlines, and any actions required from you, such as providing relevant documents.
The initial consultation is vital for securing legal services, as it helps you assess the need for professional assistance and the compatibility of the legal professional with your needs. Key takeaways include: (1) honesty, (2) being ready to share your story, and (3) asking questions without hesitation.