Ron Poliquin here at DoverLawOffice.com, I am your Delaware Employment Attorney. In today's video I am going to discuss how should clients prepare for your first consultation?
How Should Clients Prepare For Their First Consultation With An Attorney?
Ron Poliquin here at DoverLawOffice.com, I am your Delaware Employment Attorney. Today's video I am going to discuss how should clients prepare for your first consultation? How do you prepare best sitting down with your attorney for the first time? It is usually a very nervous time for a client but I'm going to go through some tips that I think will help assist you in sitting down with that attorney. More importantly assist your potential attorney with handling your employment case.
- I always do an intake sheet before the client comes. I keep that intake sheet on my website www.doverlawoffice.com and you try to fill that sheet out prior to coming and fill it with as much information as possible. This gives the attorney a preview of what the case might be, what kind of causes of action that caused it. Causes of action is basically the basis for a lawsuit, the basis for some sueing someone. I know some law firms will have a client do the intake in their law office, you may feel rushed. The attorney may need to see you right away so, I always recommend doing the intake prior to coming to the attorney’s office. That gives me a little heads up on what he's going to be seeing you about. Most employment attorneys charge some kind of consult fee. I will do a separate video on why that is compared to personal injury cases. Be prepared to pay that consult fee. It can be anywhere from $100 bucks to $350 bucks for a consult fee for an attorney. Come prepared to pay that, most attorneys accept credit card. Don't be in a position where you don't have the fee and then you have to reschedule or borrow money from your uncle Joe or whatever before the consult. You want to make sure that you have that fee paid up.
- I always find this really helps me as an attorney, bring some kind of timeline as far as how the situation went. Meaning November 5, 1992, you were hired by XYZ company. September 6, 2001, you requested time off for medical leave under FMLA. That next month you were terminated. Bring some general time frame that always helps. I also like a cast of characters, meaning the central people in your case. Give me a list of those cast of characters and cast of characters if you had their contact information, email, phone and address that always helps.
- Documents how many documents should you bring? Do not come to my office with 5 plastic bags worth of material, you will look like a crazy person. Bring the essential documents to my office maybe if there was a contract involved bring the contract. If you need pay stubs bring some pay stubs, not all of them. If there's essential emails that were sent out, try to bring those. As far as with documents, do not give your attorney original documents. Anytime you give someone original and to you, the most important document they tend to lose them. I always make it a policy of my office to scan or make a copy of your originals and give you back the original. I think that's the best practice there.
- When you're with your attorney, you need to tell your story and tell it honestly, the good, the bad and ugly. Attorneys expect that not every case is straightforward if there's bad facts we want to know as fast as possible, so we can prepare the case. So, we could honestly give you an assessment. I cannot give an honest assessment if I don't have all the facts. If you're not quite sure if it's an essential fact or not, just tell your attorney and let them decide whether it's an important fact are not an important fact.
- Keep a file for yourself, that goes with keep the originals but keep a little file. Let's see what if I have something here. Something that looks like this. Just put my case, keep your legal documents in there. Just keep everything in one file for yourself. Be organized…right.
- Take notes during your consult because you're not going to remember everything that the attorney said. Your emotional state, the attorney might be talking fast. There is going to be a lot of information but take some notes or bring somebody that's going to take some notes. Do not record your attorney. I have had this happen, I'm not going to let that happen. No attorney is going to let you record them on the consult. But take notes and bring the list.
- Bring a list of essential questions and concerns during your consult. You are going to forget to say some stuff. So, before your consult write down your questions or concerns. Make sure you get them answered during the consultation. Write them down first because in all likelihood if you have a bunch of questions you are going to forget about them during the consultation.
- Be open minded, meaning that one, you are there for your attorney’s expert opinion. You believe he knows more than you. Maybe the case is not as great as you thought it was. Maybe there is some facts he needs to find out. Maybe there is a different case than the original case that you came it came in there with. I often find that sometimes someone will come to me with the case they think is the case but really, it's about something else or it's about some other cause of action. So be open minded that the case may be different than what you thought it was.
- If you plan to retain an attorney, take time to read the fee agreement. It is important. It is not something that you should glance over. Any attorney will let you take time to read it. Take it home for someone to look over. It is important, it's a contract you are essentially signing. Basically, contracts are there if things go badly or if there's a disagreement later on between how much of that the attorney gets, how much you get, whether it is a contingency fee, hourly fee, or there is some kind of hybrid fee. Read the agreement to make sure you understand it. Make sure you understand the essential parts of it before signing it. No attorney is going to get offended by you reading it over and taking your time. In fact, I usually leave the room for a few minutes to let them look it over.
- Last tip, initial consultations are kind of like a first date. You are feeling each other out, you are seeing if you guys mesh well, if you guys connect. If you don't feel connected with that attorney, no matter how good of a reputation the attorney has, I would look for another attorney. You need to be able to trust your attorney, if you don't trust the attorney then you're not going to make it easier for that attorney. If you don't trust his judgement, if you want to second guess him, if you think he's taking it the wrong way, don't feel obligated to hire this attorney. I understand that you may have paid a consultation fee but that is going to be a long time you're going to be in a relationship with this person. You have to be able to trust them, trust their judgment and trust their competence.
It goes back to it's important hire a competent employment attorney. If you don't feel trust in that attorney, do not hire them. Look for another attorney or more than one. I tell people this all the time, that there are sometimes people who just don't connect and that's okay. I'd rather have a client say, "I don't want to hire you, I want to go somewhere else" than if he had retained me and be second-guessing me the whole time and not really trusting my judgment.
Anyways, that is how to prepare for your first consultation. If you want to hire me, or you would like to have a consultation, call me up. I'm Ron Poliquin, I am your Delaware employment attorney, DoverLawOffice.com thanks.