The first meeting with a lawyer is perhaps the most crucial one you’ll ever have in your association with him. After all, your decision to work with him rests upon this meeting. And, the outcome of the meeting will depend on what you discuss in it. For most first-timers, this can be a pretty daunting prospect since they have no idea what to ask. This brief guide will throw some light on this purpose.
Naturally, you will begin by sharing the details of your legal matter. This should be done clearly and concisely, and the attorney will give you his first impression of the case. Check with him what experience he has in this field and whether he has tackled a case similar to yours before. In complex cases, the experience is often the winning factor.
Feel free to question your attorney carefully about his impression of your case. Ask him what the possible outcomes are, and what the relative merits are of adopting different approaches. Ask the attorney to be very frank in judging whether you have a strong or weak case. You must know exactly where you stand legally and what to expect. Try to get an estimate of how long this legal matter should take to resolve. As you may well be aware, there are cases that sometimes drag on for a decade or more.
Whatever you do, don’t leave the interview before you get complete information about the attorney’s fees, including how the bills, what his hourly rates are and any other relevant details. Ask him to present you with a rough estimate of how much the entire case should cost you. If the attorney has quoted an expensive rate, check if he will personally do all the work on your case, or will he offload a part of his responsibility on to his junior associates or interns. If it is the latter, you are entitled to a discount.
Since you will be a team, it is very important to ask the attorney what kind of a work arrangement he proposes for the both of you. What sort of involvement does he want from you; how often will he give you his feedback and in what form; will he be the only person in the firm you will communicate with; and what kind of documents and invoices will he submit to you, are all matters you should be very clear about.
Teamwork and trust are of key importance if you both want to strike up a winning formula. And the foundation for both these qualities needs to be laid in this first interview. So, feel no hesitation in asking an attorney for all these details during the first interview.
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