Meeting Your Lawyer: The First Consultation
Divorce is never easy. Maybe you’ve talked to your spouse about how things aren’t working for years, or maybe you’ve just decided that your path ahead is as a single person and no discussions have yet taken place. Either way, legal guidance can be a smart next step in making your plans, but how do you get the most out of your first consultation with an attorney.
Some lawyers charge for an initial consultation and some do not. When you meet with an attorney for the first time, it’s a chance for both of you to size up the other person. Family law involves the lawyer you select being intimately involved in your life for six to nine months or even longer. You should feel comfortable with the person you select to represent you. While you’re trying to figure out if the dynamics are good for you, the lawyer is also trying to decide if they have a good feeling about you and your case. Regardless of whether you agree that the lawyer will engage your services, the lawyer will not be able to meet with or be hired by your spouse after that consultation. That’s why most lawyers charge a consultation fee that compensates them for the potential loss of a client on the other side if you decide not to hire them. You should walk away with a better sense of the law after a consultation with any attorney, though, so you will also receive some value for your money! It should make your next consultation go faster and better, regardless.
What to bring
You don’t NEED to bring anything but yourself and your means to pay for the consultation, but if you want to be sure you get the most out of the initial meeting, there’s some work you can do beforehand. Sit down and make a list of assets (property, real estate, retirement accounts) and liabilities (mortgages, credit cards, medical bills). These are the sorts of things you will need to document as a part of the financial side of the divorce. Your lawyer will have lots of questions about these things, and accurate input will improve the answers you get for your own questions.
What to remember
Family law is a team effort. You should find a lawyer who you feel comfortable with, and doing a consultation or two before you actually hire someone will let you make the best choice for you.
I am happy to meet with you for an initial consultation where we go over your rights under the law. I can help you with the paperwork or simply give you some heads-up as to unique difficulties your own situation might present. You can email me or call my office at 541-844-0625.