Ideally, the first meeting between an attorney and a potential client is not just an initial consultation about the client’s case. The first meeting is for the client to determine if the client wants to hire the attorney AND for the attorney to determine if there are any issues or facts with the client’s case that would make the attorney turn down the client’s case.
From the potential client’s perspective, you need to interview the attorney and see if they will handle your case the way that you want your case handled. For example, do you want an aggressive attorney? An attorney that gets along with opposing counsel? Do you want your case handled quickly or would you like to go through extensive ligation? It is also important to determine whether the attorney has the experience and knowledge in the area of law that you are hiring them to represent you. You need to determine what the office and billing practices are for the firm. Based on these and other considerations, you should come prepared with a list of questions to ask the attorney. For ideas on what to ask when meeting a prospective attorney for the first time, read our Facebook post. Or, watch this YouTube video for 15 great questions to ask as well.
The initial consultation also provides the attorney with an opportunity to decide whether they want to take a prospective client’s case. What might make an attorney not want to take your case? Your case could be more contested than the attorney has time and availability to help with at this time. There could be a conflict of interest that could keep the attorney from taking the case. Maybe the attorney does not want to work with opposing counsel in the case or does not like to practice in the jurisdiction where your case is filed. Your case could be in a practice area that the attorney does not practice.
Why do attorneys charge for consultations?
Typically, during an initial consultation with an attorney, a prospective client will want to talk about their case and find out what the attorney thinks the next steps are or how the client should go forward. The answers to these questions are legal advice, and should only be given between a client and their attorney. Legal advice is not free, and you should only get legal advice from your attorney (not from friends or family members, who are usually not attorneys and don’t know the law or how the court system works where your case is filed).
If you need legal advice, contact our firm to set a time for your first appointment. Our attorneys can do a limited scope representation and give you advice during the single consultation if you aren’t ready to hire our firm to litigate the case. We charge our regular hourly rates for a consultation for legal advice.
What should I bring to my first appointment at CBJ?
You should bring the following items to your first appointment at CBJ:
- A completed initial intake form: Initial Intake Form (Family Law) or Initial Intake Form (Divorce). Please complete at least the first page of the form.
- A copy of all relevant court paperwork. This means if there is a current case, bring copies of the current case paperwork. If there was a prior case between you and the other party, bring a copy of the final order and any other prior case paperwork that may be relevant to the new case
- Evidence. Examples include e-mails, text messages, pictures, recordings, and contracts. If you have questions about a specific topic, like child support or the equity in your house, bring as much paperwork and information as you can on that topic.
- Method of Payment. Bring cash or a checkbook to pay for your consultation. We do take credit and debit cards, but we charge a 3.5% fee when processing a card.
Are there things I should not bring to appointments?
(1) Please do not bring your children to an appointment, unless we have specifically asked you to. Children should be shielded from the legal process as much as possible, especially when it comes to sensitive family issues, and we prefer for them not to come to our office.
(2) Any extra people. We understand that you may need or want to have someone with you for moral support when you come to the appointment. Please understand the presence of extra people in the conference room during your appointment means there is legally no attorney client privilege for the meeting. Attorney client privilege means the information shared with the attorney is confidential. This rule applies unless you bring someone else into the consultation. If someone else is part of the consultation, the discussion is not attorney-client privileged. If you need to bring someone with you, they can wait in one of our waiting rooms.
(3) Your illness. If you are under the weather and not feeling well on the day of your appointment, please call the office to reschedule. We may be able to do a telephone appointment or a video conference instead of an in-person appointment if your situation is time sensitive and you don’t want to miss your appointment.