The legal consultation is when an attorney preliminarily reviews the client’s case at the initial meeting. The consultation can be invaluable for both the attorney and the client.
While the attorney assesses the case for strengths and weaknesses, the client assesses the attorney to determine the feasibility of a future business relationship.
However, consultations are often ineffectual because the client tells the attorney what he or she thinks the attorney wants to hear; the client interrupts an attorney without an appointment; the client forgets to bring supporting documents to the consultation; the client is close-minded regarding the attorney’s assessment; and the client treats the consultation as more of a venting session than an opportunity to productively review the case.
As a result, attorneys charge consultation fees to determine the client’s seriousness about the matter. If the client is serious, $100 won’t matter because litigation may cost thousands. If the client is looking to vent about the matter, the client will move on to a friend for comfort.
If you want your legal consultation to be productive, I recommend the following:
1. Tell the attorney the facts, like you tell your doctor the symptoms. The attorney isn’t there to judge you, but to help you. And just as your doctor needs to know all of your symptoms for a proper diagnosis, the attorney needs all of the facts to properly assess a case.
2. Schedule an appointment with the attorney’s office. An attorney’s schedule is often dictated by pre-set court dates. Scheduling an appointment in advance allows the attorney to commit attention to you.
3. Provide relevant documents to the attorney prior to the scheduled consultation. This allows the attorney to review the events thoroughly and objectively for a more complete analysis.
4. Be prepared to answer detailed questions about the matter. Each and every fact could alter the outcome of your case, even seemingly insignificant facts.
5. Be open-minded regarding the attorney’s opinion.
6. Realize one attorney’s opinion may differ from another’s opinion. Until the case is ruled on by a judge, it is an opinion.