When you’re on the clock, no one wants to waste time. This is especially true during your initial consultation (if your attorney offers it) with your lawyer. You don’t want to waste you or your lawyer’s time—and you certainly don’t want to pay them for an action or information you could have given them up front. To avoid both scenarios, use these tips so you can make the most of your time during your consultation—and the most of your funds.
Know what you want (and be realistic)
Go into your meeting with your lawyer with a purpose. What outcome do you want? What outcome would you settle for? We’ll use this scenario to illustrate this point: let’s say you are mad at another family member for the way they are dealing with executing a will. What do you want changed? What outcome of this process do you want? Knowing your goal or outcome can help you decide what kind of lawyer you need and which lawyer you should contact.
Hire the right attorney for your case
Research attorneys in your area before you contact lawyers. Look for an experienced lawyer or law firm with experience related to your case (i.e. custodial issues, estate planning, etc.) If you need affirmation that you are making the right choice, ask others you know who have gone through a similar case for recommendations of a good, experienced lawyer to contact.
Don’t hold anything back when you are talking to your lawyer—-but remember you’re on the clock. To make sure you get all your information out and presented, be prepared with the necessary documents and information. Make a list of documented interactions, actions, and points related to your case on a tablet BEFORE you go with ALL the information your lawyer needs; this can help you later so your lawyer doesn’t have to chase after information you haven’t given them. Add any questions you have for the lawyer to your list; this can also help you state the facts without being overly emotional.
Leave your emotions at the door
It doesn’t matter if you’re transitioning your business, drafting or executing a will, dealing with custodial issues, or pursuing any of these other reasons you need an attorney, there’s bound to be some sort of emotions involved. Try to leave those emotions behind, and look at your case with a neutral and unbiased view. It’s not easy to do, so make sure you think through the meeting before you go and have easy coping strategies (i.e. deep breaths, tissues, etc.) that can help you calm down when you start to feel upset or angry. Remember, your lawyer is there to help; try not to take your emotions out on them.
It’s inevitable: your lawyer is going to use legal terms (it’s what they have to do every day). Don’t get lost in all the legal jargon that comes out of your lawyer’s mouth. This is your case; don’t be afraid to ask questions so you understand and know your role and responsibilities.
Know the next step
Don’t leave your lawyer’s office without knowing what the next step is, such as what paperwork you need to bring or send in, paperwork that needs a signature, discussions that need to happen or any actions the attorney has promised to do.