Checklist: Meeting with a Lawyer for the First Time
If you are meeting with a lawyer for the first time, chances are you are nervous and unsure what to expect. It is the kind of meeting you never thought you would to need to attend. Here are the things you need to know before you walk into that meeting:
Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
You are entering the world of a problem-solver. Prepare to feel as though you are under a microscope, examined most certainly for your own good. You will be asked a series of questions that you may have never had to answer before. Above all, do not be embarrassed.
The lawyer you hire needs to know the good, the bad, and the ugly before anyone else in your life knows any of those things. The things your lawyer doesn’t know about you constitute the things your lawyer cannot protect you from, and furthermore cannot prepare you to deal with effectively.
Bring Everything To The Meeting
If there is a document that is part of an ongoing lawsuit that you have questions about or a prior lawsuit that currently affects you, you need to bring that document with you to the lawyer’s office so that they can identify:
- what the document is
- what it means in your case
There are certain deadlines under the law that can be triggered by the way a document is delivered to you, or that are set out within the body of the document. Most of the time, you must meet these deadlines to be able to participate fully in the lawsuit. Furthermore, there may be things in the Final Order from your prior lawsuit that will affect the way any future lawsuit is handled by the Court.
Do not leave anything you receive in connection with the ongoing lawsuit, or documents in your possession from the prior lawsuit, at your house. The lawyer you hire needs to put his or her eyes on every document in your case to help you develop the right plan for you.
Ask About The Contract With The Lawyer
When you meet with an attorney, you are determining whether or not you want to engage in a professional relationship with someone who will help you through an unfamiliar situation. Your initial meeting is the best time to determine the parameters and details of that professional relationship. There will be comfort in knowing exactly:
- how the firm and the attorney you hire operate
- how your attorney will communicate with you
- what you will be responsible for under the terms of the contract
The consistency of that professional relationship, and your understanding of the way your attorney practices, will bolster your ability to handle the stress and the unknowns in your lawsuit.