People often ask why they need to come in for an initial consultation. They just have a question that will take “30 seconds” of my time to answer. I often hear frustration on the other end of the phone when they are advised that they need to come in for a consultation to have the answer. Well, it’s important that you understand the purpose of a consultation… as I see it.
#1 – Getting All The Facts
Lawyers need to hear your story before they can provide an opinion to you on your legal rights and obligations. Every person’s situation is different. The law has to be applied to your particular situation, so legal advice should not be given until your story has been heard in full.
#2 – Is This Lawyer/Mediator For You?
I view the consultation as one of the most important meetings you will have when deciding on who will represent you. You need to be comfortable working with this professional on a regular basis. You must ensure that he or she is pursuing the solution in the manner that you choose. Do you want to have “your day in court”? Or, do you want to take an amicable approach? So often, people call around looking for any family lawyer they can find that will get them in the soonest. That is a mistake. Do your research.
#3 – Understanding Your Options
Once you have explained your story, your lawyer will be able to explain all of the available options for resolution. In my consultations I encourage my clients to think about all of their options, and then return later with their decision on how they would like to proceed. Do you want to try mediation? Maybe you want to go straight to the courtroom. How about hiring a Collaborative Lawyer? Is the DIY option available? You should get as much information as possible before making your decision. Then, your lawyer/mediator can guide you in the method you choose.
You should leave your consultation feeling more knowledgeable and able to make an informed decision on how best to proceed with your matter, based on your set of facts. Is that how you see an initial consultation? What is your opinion?