If you’re looking for legal help and need a lawyer, the first step might be to contact a prospective attorney and set up an initial consultation. Being prepared and coming up with a game plan will help you get the most out of your consultation.
Here’s what you to know about a lawyer consultation and how best to prepare for one.
What is a lawyer consultation?
A lawyer consultation is the initial meeting you have with a lawyer to talk about your case. A legal consultation also gives you and the lawyer an opportunity to get to know each other and build a working rapport.
The process typically entails the lawyer asking about the specifics of your case and informing you of your legal options. Then, there will be a mutual selection process in which you and the lawyer decide if you’ll work together.
If you agree to enter an attorney-client relationship, your lawyer will likely write up a scope of work, inform you about the costs associated with your case, and have you read over and sign a statement of your rights and responsibilities.
Potential questions to ask a lawyer during consultation
Before agreeing to anything, consider using the consultation as an opportunity to vet the lawyer and ensure they’re the right match for you and your situation. Asking questions will be the best way to evaluate your potential compatibility.
The following questions can be used as guidelines to help direct the conversation between you and a prospective lawyer.
What is your background and experience?
Ideally, the lawyer you work with will have experience handling cases similar to yours. Ask about their qualifications, background, and past cases they were involved in. Don’t be afraid to also inquire about the outcomes of those cases, as that might give you a better idea of how your case might shake out.
How much is your lawyer consultation fee?
Be prepared to ask about any lawyer consultation fees and other charges associated with representing your case. Also, inquire about how cases are billed — lawyers typically charge an hourly rate, flat rate, or contingency rate.1 The cost of a lawyer will likely depend on several factors, including their experience level, the type of legal help you need, and the scope of work for your case. If you have legal insurance, you typically pay a monthly fee for legal support.
What is the plan for my case?
You may want to ask what the lawyer’s legal strategy is for handling your case. This will give more insight into how the lawyer plans to tackle your case and what steps might be involved. Knowing the lawyer’s blueprint ahead of time can better position you to make an informed decision on whether or not this lawyer is right for you.
Who else will be involved in my case?
Keep in mind that the lawyer you initially meet with may not be the one handling the work on your case. Your case may get assigned to another lawyer in the firm, or you could have more than one lawyer. If it’s possible that another member of the law firm will handle any part of your case, you may want to speak with them as well. Ask who your primary contact person will be and how to best get in touch with them.
How long will it take to conclude the case?
The time it takes for a case to conclude will depend on several factors. It may be in your best interest to ask the lawyer how long they expect your case to take.
Tips for preparing for a legal consultation
In addition to having questions prepared, you also may want to do the following to get the most out of your legal consultation.
- Be prepared to answer questions: At your consultation, the lawyer will ask you questions concerning your case. It’s important to answer honestly, so the lawyer is well-equipped to handle your case.
- Bring copies of any relevant documents: Make sure to come to your consultation with any documents that pertain to your case. These documents could include police reports, insurance information, witness statements, summons, subpoenas, medical records/bills, photo/video evidence, etc.
- Know your desired outcomes: Think about what you hope to achieve with your case and express those outcomes to the lawyer.
- Take notes: You should bring a pen and paper to jot down important information and/or concerns that may arise during the consultation.
- Understand all documents before you sign them: If there’s something you’re not clear on, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification from the lawyer. Before signing anything, make sure you fully comprehend its purpose and potential ramifications.