April 3rd, 2023
What to Expect During a Free Consultation
If you are in a situation where you need to consider hiring a lawyer and are wondering what to expect during an initial consultation, here are a few things to consider. First and foremost, the more serious your case, the more comfortable and confident you need to be with your lawyer. In a case that multiple law firms would accept, any consultation should be as much about how you feel about the lawyer you’re considering as it is about whether the lawyer will take your case.
With exceptions, depending on the type of case, you should generally expect a consultation that covers your:
- Social history
- Medical history, in cases of injury claims
- Reasons you are considering legal assistance
- Nature of the working relationship with the law firm
- Payment for legal costs and services
You should also go over the nature of the law firm’s experience and be provided ample opportunity to have your questions fully asked and answered. Consulting a lawyer is not typically, nor should it generally be, a quick, pitch-type meeting. Nearly every legal matter is highly detail-oriented by nature, so you should be prepared to give the clearest answers possible to the most detailed of questions. You should bring any important documents or other media with you to the initial consultation as well. That can be evidenced that needs to be carefully preserved.
Beyond that, what I consider to be a successful legal consultation is one that leaves the prospective client with a clear understanding of what their case entails, what they will be charged for legal services, what the firm’s experience and track record are in handling similar cases; and what the plan would be to move the matter forward, along with a satisfaction that all of their questions were thoroughly and straight-forwardly answered, a level of confidence in the capabilities of the firm to investigate their case and represent them in court, and a sense that they are dealing with someone they can pick up the phone and comfortably talk with about their case.
It’s not always possible for a lawyer to confirm that you have a viable case that can be pursued through the legal system at that initial consultation. Oftentimes additional investigation is required to make that determination. So don’t be disparaged if you leave an initial consultation without that level of clarity. If the firm didn’t think your case had any merit, you likely wouldn’t have had a meeting with it in the first place. But you should leave with a sense that the lawyers you just met had a shared, tangible understanding of the importance of your case. Ultimately, you’re looking for confidence that the lawyers you hire will do the work to provide you with the best answers and peace of mind possible about your particular situation. And you should expect a legal consultation that provides it.