It is your first time hiring a lawyer and you are wondering what you should do to prepare for them. Lawyers are like all other professionals – while they are there to help you they also want to make money in the process so it is important that your meetings are dictated by efficiency, professionalism and openness. Once you have these things in mind it will not be difficult to prepare for a meeting with your lawyer. Here is what you should do:
- Send them an email that outlines the main points of your case. You should include what you are suing or being sued about and what your side of your story is as well as what you expect to get at the end of it all. Many people assume that this is information that will be discussed in the first meeting with their lawyer but here is what you should remember – lawyers charge you by the hour so the less you talk the better. By sending your information ahead of time you reduce the length of your discussions and therefore pay them less.
- Find out when your lawyer is available. Unlike other professionals lawyers spend a lot of their time in court so you may end up waiting for a lawyer for hours and sometimes even days on end. Call ahead and find out when your lawyer will be in the office and then get an appointment and make sure that you arrive promptly.
- You will have questions for your lawyer and rather than try to remember them during your meeting you can write them all down so that you can read them out one by one. You can send them ahead on email – it allows your lawyer to prepare the most helpful answers.
- Whatever you do you should never use your lawyer as a friend to talk to. Again, it all comes down to the fact that he is charging you for every hour that you spend in his office. If you feel particularly stressed you should talk to a psychiatrist, a friend, a priest – anyone but your lawyer. You can however let him know that your case is causing you considerable mental anguish and he can work this into your claim.
- Make sure that you know right at the first meeting what your lawyer will be expecting in terms of compensation and what you can expect by way of expenses. In some cases you are only expected to pay your lawyer if he wins your case so you don’t have to worry about putting down a large payment upfront. Some require that you pay a retainer and how much your lawyer will ask for depends entirely on him. You may have to cover expenses such as filing fees, making copies and so on – make sure you know what you are in for before you get started. If you feel that a lawyer is too expensive but you still like his services you can talk to him about pro bone representation – they are required to do a number of these every year and you may become the lucky beneficiary of free legal counsel.
- If you will be taking your matter to court (as opposed to getting a settlement) it is important to make sure that you have a lawyer who can argue on your behalf. Some lawyers are excellent when it comes to paperwork but when required to stand in a courtroom they fail.
Lastly, if you meet your lawyer for the first time and you don’t like him or her you shouldn’t keep working with them – if you don’t get along it can negatively impact the outcome of your case.