Preparing for Your Initial Consultation: A Checklist
The process of dealing with a legal issue can be quite overwhelming, especially if this is your first time. This checklist should help simplify at least one part of the process: preparing for your initial consultation with your lawyer.
Prepare a list of questions to ask your lawyer
There are no stupid questions, and savvy clients are wise to learn everything they can about their case. You can ask questions about the way your lawyer conducts operations, about relevant laws, or about court proceedings. You may be confused or frustrated by a lot of things concerning your case, especially if you are dealing with a sensitive and emotional subject like a personal injury or a will contest. Your lawyer deals with these issues every day, and would be happy to help clarify and help educate you on these topics.
Organize your thoughts
Your lawyer will also be asking a lot of questions to you as they begin to familiarize themselves with your situation. Take some time before your meeting to organize your thoughts. If your case involves a traumatic event that justifiably triggers emotions, it may be helpful to write down a sequence of events (timeline) or construct a narrative to help explain the situation. It can be difficult to communicate your thoughts clearly, especially if you are nervous during the initial consultation, so taking the time to write it down in advance can be helpful.
If you are dealing with a sensitive subject, you may instinctively want to shield the truth due to modesty or embarrassment. It is vital that you be honest with your lawyer. Don’t leave out details that you assume must be irrelevant, because they could actually be quite important. Your lawyer is your legal representative. They need to know all of the facts to fight for your legal interests. Remember that anything you share is confidential and protected by lawyer-client privilege.
Collect supporting documents
You don’t want to go into your initial consultation empty-handed. Bring any and all documents that are relevant to your issue. If the case has already been involved in the legal system in some way, also bring these documents. If you aren’t sure what documents will be helpful, ask your lawyer prior to the in-person consultation.
Your lawyer will offer guidance and advisement during the initial consultation. You should prepare yourself to take notes during this meeting. If your lawyer asks any questions that you can’t answer at the time, write them down to answer at a later date.
Follow this checklist, and you’ll be well prepared for your initial consultation with your lawyer.