Second, the initial consultation offers both the prospective client and the attorney an opportunity to meet face-to-face and determine whether they would make a good "team" – that is, whether they think it would be a good idea to work together to accomplish the client's goals. It is important to make sure that the lawyer has time to devote to the client's matter, which can be discussed in the meeting. It is also important that the attorney understand what your goals are.
Here are some tips for making the initial consultation go well:
1. Gather all documents that are relevant to your legal problem. Bring them to your appointment.
2. In the days prior to the appointment, keep a list handy to jot down questions for the attorney as you think of them. You may have questions about how the law applies to your situation, and also about how the lawyer operates. Take the list with you to the appointment. Take notes during the appointment.
3. Schedule plenty of time. The initial consultation generally does not take less than an hour, and may take more than that, depending on how complicated your situation is.
4. Check with the attorney's office to determine whether they have anything that they want you to bring in addition to the existing documents. Some attorneys, for example, ask that the prospective client prepare a summary or timeline of their situation, describing the problem and providing dates or approximate dates regarding what happened.
5. Inquire about whether there is a standard Fee Agreement, and whether you can have a copy to review in advance of the appointment. Read it carefully and write down any questions you have.
6. Make sure you understand the attorney's requirements for payment. Some attorneys accept credit cards, while others do not.
7. Do some research about the attorney. Most lawyers have a web site. Go to the web site and find out as much as you can.
By Doris B. Truhlar