The average person doesn’t have a need to interact with lawyers until, well, there’s a problem. So if you’re a mature, law-abiding citizen you probably don’t have any firsthand experience meeting with an attorney. Thus, when it comes time to hire one – perhaps after a car accident or business misunderstanding – you’re not sure what to do.
In this article, we’ll clear up some of this confusion and illuminate the proper course of action.
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6 Tips for Speaking With Your Attorney
Your initial consultation with an attorney is one of the most important meetings you’ll have. It’s the chance to explain the situation and get expert counsel on how to proceed. Here are some useful tips to help you speak with your attorney in a productive and efficient manner:
Let’s say you slipped down some stairs and broke your back. Or perhaps you were involved in a car accident where another driver ran a stop sign and plowed into your vehicle. Whatever the case may be, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
“After suffering a serious personal injury, you have a lot on your mind with rehabilitation, medical bills, and missed work, not to mention the strain it puts on your entire family,” Gartlan Injury Law explains. “To make matters worse, the insurance company may try to unfairly shift the blame onto you.”
If you aren’t careful, you’ll waltz into an attorney’s office with your head spinning. And rather than communicate the details of the case, all you do is confuse him. That’s why it’s important to get organized ahead of time. Gather all information and try writing out a concrete timeline of events so that you can lay a proper foundation for the case.
Be Open and Honest
Your attorney is on your team. Even if you refuse to tell the truth to everyone else, you can be an open book with your lawyer. In fact, you can’t afford to hide anything. Lay it all out and you and your attorney can develop a forward-thinking strategy that promises the best possible outcome.
It’s helpful to come into your first meeting with a list of questions. No question is too small or obvious to ask. You’re paying good money to meet with an attorney and you deserve to be on the same page.
As a general rule of thumb, you should listen as much as you speak. Tell your story and ask questions, but don’t forget to pay attention to what the lawyer tells you. Their advice costs a pretty penny for a reason. Listen and take copious notes.
Get Clear on Financials
“Legal fees can be complex, so you will want to get details at your initial consultation. If different people will be working on your case (for example, a partner, associate, paralegal, and legal assistant) they all bill at different rates, so find out what those are,” LegalZoom suggests. “Most attorneys ask for a retainer, which is an amount of money up front. They then bill at an hourly rate against that money. You will owe whatever charges are not covered by the retainer.”
If paying on a retainer, ask for details on how much you owe and whether or not there are payment plans available. Other attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which basically means they take a portion of your award or compensation. Again, make sure you’re clear on how this works so there are no surprises.
Establish a Concrete “Next Step”
An initial consultation is just that. It’s wise to leave this meeting with at least one concrete step so that you and your attorney know exactly how to proceed. This gives you a chance to follow up at a later date to ensure things are moving in the proper direction.
Putting it All Together
Meeting with an attorney is never something you want to do. The fact that you’re interacting with a lawyer means there’s some sort of issue or wrongdoing. And regardless of which side of the problem you’re on, it’s usually a hassle.
Thankfully, you can smooth over this entire process by handling your interactions with great poise and care. Hopefully this article helps you develop a strategic plan of action.