What To Expect at an Initial Legal Consultation
If you need to hire a lawyer for the first time, you may feel like you don’t know where to start. That’s okay! When you are looking for a California family lawyer to help you with a child support issue or you need a divorce, you will start by scheduling an initial legal consultation.
How Do I Schedule an Initial Legal Consultation?
Most likely, the easiest way to schedule an initial legal consultation is to call the law office. A telephone call is often the quickest way to schedule a time to meet with an experienced attorney.
Many modern law practices allow prospective clients to make contact directly from the website. If this method is used, care should be taken not to include confidential information in the message. It is best to offer your availability and request an appointment. Then, someone will contact you to follow up.
What Happens at an Initial Legal Consultation?
You’ll meet with the attorney who will be handling your case. This is your opportunity to get to know the attorney and for the attorney to get to know you, and your case.
In the beginning, you can ask how much time you will have. Usually, 30 minutes or an hour have been set aside for each appointment.
During this time, you will talk with the attorney about your case and you will get a sense for their personality, competence, and communication style. You should check in with yourself periodically throughout the consultation about how you feel and whether you think you can work with this attorney. You want to be comfortable with your choice.
You should share important information about your situation at the initial consultation as well as any documents, like emails or photos, that may be relevant to your case.
You must be truthful. Any misrepresentations can damage your case and your relationship with your attorney when they inevitably come out during the course of your case.
Can I Ask Legal Questions in an Initial Legal Consultation?
Absolutely! The initial legal consultation is the appropriate time to ask questions like:
- Does child support cover private school tuition?
- Can I get alimony while the divorce is pending?
- Is my spouse entitled to my inheritance when we get divorced?
- What can I do if I think my spouse is hiding assets during a divorce?
- How much will it cost to start my family law case in Los Angeles?
These are just a small sample of the questions family law attorneys hear every day. You should feel comfortable enough to ask any question you have.
Of course, the attorney consulting with you will have questions for you as well. Again, it is critical to give honest answers to the attorney’s questions. In many cases, an attorney can help you mitigate any issues that could reflect negatively on your position.
For example, if your attorney asks a question about substance abuse. A Los Angeles family law attorney will be familiar with drug testing in Los Angeles child custody cases and the answer to the question may impact their legal strategy.
The attorney may offer information about the law, such as an explanation of California’s child support guidelines. Ordinarily, what you will learn from an attorney in an initial consultation will be informational only.
Some attorneys may share some of their suggestions for strategy in an initial legal consultation. It is important to understand that an attorney will probably only offer legal advice once you create an attorney-client relationship.
What’s an Attorney-Client Relationship?
When you form an attorney-client relationship with a California lawyer, you enter into a formal contract with an attorney. In the contract, the attorney makes certain agreements and the client makes agreements as well. Attorneys agree to do things such as:
- Communicating information about a client’s case in a timely manner
- Protecting against conflicts of interest
- Provide competent legal representation
Clients, of course, agree to pay the attorney for their services. Many legal services contracts also include explicit agreements that the client will be honest with an attorney.
Should you choose to enter an attorney-client relationship, you may sign the contract at the initial consultation. If you feel uncomfortable with an attorney, you should not feel any pressure. Instead, reflect on these warning flags to avoid hiring a bad lawyer.