Preparing for your Initial Consultation with an Attorney: A Legal First Date!
In the lifetime of most people, there comes a time when a visit to an attorney is necessary. The initial visit can be a stressful occurrence for some people, even if the visit is for something as benign as the preparation of a Will. It doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember, the attorney is there to help you. Below are some helpful tips for the initial conference between the attorney and client.
It’s important to remember that the communication between you and the attorney is confidential. That confidentiality is the bed rock of legal representation. It is sacred. This means you can and should be completely candid with the attorney. An attorney can only help you to the best of his or her capacity if he or she knows all the facts you know. Most importantly, since what you tell the attorney is confidential, you should feel at ease discussing the issue at hand at each consultation. Do not be afraid to ask questions. If it helps you to remember your questions, write them down before you go to your initial conference. No question is silly or stupid. The legal system is a very old system
(rudimentary negligence laws were established in the Old Testament), which means the legalese can be difficult. Sometimes the laws don’t even seem logical. That is why lawyers complete three years of law school, annual continuing education sessions and continue to “practice” their entire lives. It is impossible to have an in depth knowledge of all laws, and good attorneys continue to learn every day. So remember, no question you ask is unimportant. In fact, the more questions you ask, the deeper understanding the lawyer will have of the issue you are discussing. A good lawyer is a good listener.
Arrive at the initial conference (and all subsequent consultations) as prepared as possible. If you have documents you think are important, bring them. If you have been arrested and have possession of the police report, bring it. If you are seeking a divorce, try to bring the family accounts and property information. If you want a Will prepared, seriously consider who your beneficiaries will be, who your personal representative will be and how you want your property distributed. Whatever the issue may be, try to gather as much information as you can to bring to your initial conference.
The initial conference with an attorney is an important conference – possibly the most important. It is the time when the attorney sizes up your case and you size up the attorney. If you are not comfortable with the attorney, do not hire him or her. The attorney/client relationship is an important relationship, almost as important as the doctor/patient relationship. No matter how qualified the attorney is, according to your friends or television advertisements, if you are not comfortable with that attorney, you will not be happy in the long run. If you are not happy with your attorney, find another one. After all, you deserve to have your legal rights represented by someone whom you can respect and trust.
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