Meeting with a family lawyer for the first time can be daunting, especially if it is your first time having to speak about and deal with legal issues. The consultation meeting with a family lawyer is your opportunity to ask questions and learn about your rights and obligations. In order to make this initial meeting productive and meaningful there are some things you can do:
BRING YOUR SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
Bring with you any documents you believe are relevant to your legal issues (i.e. financial documents, a copy of a signed Separation Agreement, if there is one). If you are meeting with a lawyer and your matter is already in the court system, it is particularly helpful for the lawyer if you bring with you copies of all court documents filed, including court Orders made, in the proceeding to date.
SUMMARIZE THE IMPORTANT EVENTS
Prepare in advance of the meeting a history or timeline of important dates and events that you feel are relevant. Having a written chronology of events will help you give the lawyer a brief and concise overview and background of your matter.
LIST YOUR QUESTIONS
Prepare a list of questions you want to ask the lawyer. You will receive a lot of new information during the initial consultation meeting, which may overwhelm you. You don’t want to forget specific questions you have for the lawyer.
You may wish to take notes during the meeting. Although some law firms will provide you with a written assessment after the meeting, which outlines the issues discussed, you may wish to take your own notes for quick and easy reference should you wish to remind yourself of what the lawyer said during the meeting.
SHARE ALL THE DETAILS
Be honest with the family lawyer. Anything you tell the lawyer during the consultation meeting is confidential, even if you decide not to retain his or her services after the initial consultation. What may not be an important fact to you may be important to the lawyer and could change the legal advice he or she would otherwise give you.
Before retaining, ensure that you are comfortable with the lawyer and confident in his or her ability to represent you and your best interests. If you need to consult with a number of different lawyers before retaining, that is your prerogative.