Expectations for Initial Legal Consultations
Many law firms now give limited free initial consultations. Some firms are better than others in how they use the time given for a free consultation. Here are some things you should know about your initial consultation with an attorney.
Know how long you have been given. If you are given a 30-minute free consultation, understand that if you go over those 30 minutes you may be required to pay for your overage. Be proactive and tell the attorney you are meeting with that you do not want to go over your slotted time. Also respect the attorneys time understanding that they have other obligations to fulfill and deadlines to meet.
Make a list of questions. Many clients come in very emotional or just not sure what to expect because they have never talked with an attorney before. Your meeting will go much smoother if you have a specific list of questions you want to make sure gets answered during your free consultation. If will also help you stay within your allotted time for the consultation.
Don’t talk too much. Do not let your initial consultation be a time where you release all your frustrations, emotions or tell your whole life history. You want to get the most out of your initial consultation. The goal is to get some direction for your legal issues. If you do all the talking then it does not leave much time to hear from the attorney.
Beware of the selling attorney. Your initial consultation should be about you figuring out if this is the right attorney for you and whether the attorney is going to take the case in the direction you want it to go. Some attorneys sadly spend most of the initial consultation talking about themselves, their ability to handle cases like yours, and their credentials. Such consultations, where the attorney is just trying to get you to hire them, does not help you determine even if you want to pursue a legal action, much less if this attorney is going to be the one to do it for you.
Get a big picture. While you will not leave an initial consultation with all the legal details of a case, you should leave with a big picture. If you are seeking a divorce, you should at least learn the process for a divorce and some of your basic rights. You need to be able to make an informed decision. However, understand that the initial consult is not the time to cover every detail of the plan for your legal case. You should get a big picture and get the details after you have hired the attorney.
Understand the costs. Part of making an informed decision is knowing how much it is going to costs. Of course, if your matter is an hourly billable matter, a good attorney is not going to tell you how much a case is going to costs (as no one really knows as it is based upon how much work has to be put into your case). But you should leave an initial consultation knowing the attorney’s hourly rate, the paralegal’s hourly rate, the amount of the retainer, will you have to pay another retainer once the initial retainer is used, is there a written contract, will you receive an itemized billing, does the firm take credit cards, and how long will it take to get started on your case.
At Kinberger Law Office we offer free half hour consultations. We want our clients to clearly understand their options and risks so they can make an informed decision about whether they want to proceed with a legal matter. Upon engaging Kinberger Law Office, the staff goes over a very detailed attorney-client contract that sets out the costs they can expect to encounter in their particular case. For more information, be sure to contact Teresa Kinberger at email@example.com or schedule your free initial consultation at (502) 425-9920.