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Let's Talk About: Initial Attorney Consultations

by Bryan Scott Haskins on Feb. 21, 2019

 General Practice 

Summary: It recently dawned on me that most people have never hired an attorney before and do not know what to expect when going through that process. The attorney consultation is a preliminary conversation with you and an attorney so you can understand your legal rights, determine whether you have a case, and if the attorney will accept your case. Typically, attorneys, like myself, do not charge for the initial client consultation.

It recently dawned on me that most people have never hired an attorney before and do not know what to expect when going through that process. The attorney consultation is a preliminary conversation with you and an attorney so you can understand your legal rights, determine whether you have a case, and if the attorney will accept your case. Typically, attorneys, like myself, do not charge for the initial client consultation.

It is important to prepare before your consultation in order to have the right information accessible to answer all questions the attorney will have. You should not expect to receive much legal advice at this consult since it is not meant to resolve your situation. It is an opportunity to discuss your situation and determine whether the attorney will take your case.

Before you begin the consultation, you should gather as much information relating to your situation in order to assist the consultation. You should have any documents ready and available for attorney review and have contact information for people who may be involved. Anything you discuss with the attorney during the consultation is protected by attorney-client privilege, so you should feel free to tell everything about your situation so the attorney can make a decision on whether you have a case.

During the consultation, the attorney will ask you questions about your situation. It is vitally important to tell the truth in the consultation.  If you do not tell the whole truth or lie about certain facts, it could hurt your potential case and you could lose. Another important part of the consultation will be a discussion of legal fees and how to proceed. There are different ways that attorneys get paid, so it is important to know what the compensation structure will be in your case. Generally, you should expect to provide a retainer up front in order for the attorney to begin your case. That money will be placed in the attorney trust account and the attorney will invoice against the retainer. You will owe whatever remaining charges are not covered by the retainer.

After the consultation, the attorney will decide whether you have a case and whether the attorney will take your case. The attorney may ask to speak with other people involved in the situation or request other documents in order to determine whether to take your case. Once the determination is made, you and the attorney will sign an attorney-client agreement that outlines the specifics for how the attorney will proceed on your case and explain legal fees and payments. The attorney will keep you informed of the matter as it progresses and will let you know if there are things you can do (or not do) to help move the case forward.

If you have any questions about the consultation process or want to know whether you or someone you know have a case, please contact my office today for a free initial consultation.

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