What to Expect During a Consultation

By: John Whitbeck

[09.18.2020] The first step to hiring a lawyer is usually a consultation. To minimize the stress involved in hiring a lawyer for your situation, we think it is essential for you to know what to expect during your initial consultation with our firm.

Your first contact with our firm will come from calling our office and speaking to our staff person who schedules consultations. You can also reach our firm through our website, email, or social media, and we will contact you to schedule the consultation.

During this first contact, you will give our staff basic background information and share some very general details about your case to give us an idea of what the subject matter is. You will also provide us with the name of the opposing party in your case so we can run what is called a “conflict check.” A conflict check is where we search our database to make sure we have not been contacted by your opposing party about representing them before we talked to you. Such instances are rare, but a conflict check is essential due to the Rules that we have to follow as lawyers and the fact that you need to be able to trust in the confidentiality of your consultation with us.

Generally our consultations last no more than one hour. While we prefer to do them in-person, consultations often occur over the telephone or Zoom especially for clients who live long distances from our office or are uncomfortable with in-person meetings during the pandemic. Either way, you generally can accomplish everything you need to do in a consultation within about an hour. Our goal is to ensure that you leave our consultations better off than you were before in terms of your knowledge and understanding of your particular case.

Here’s what you can expect from our consultation with you:

You will get to know the lawyer you are potentially hiring. 

You are trusting the lawyer you hire with one of the most important things in your life: your legal matter. You must trust your lawyer 100% with your case and feel like he or she has your back. It is also essential that there is a “chemistry” with your lawyer in that you will genuinely like working together. You will usually figure out if you can trust your lawyer and will enjoy working with them at the consultation.

You will know exactly how the firm operates. 

You will become familiar with our associates and paralegals, and how, if at all, they will be a part of your case. Our firm does not dish off our cases to other attorneys for the important points. However, occasionally, we will have associates make court appearances on routine matters, work on discovery and document drafting with you, and help answer your questions when the lead attorney on your case is not available. You will also get to know our paralegals who will be there to work with you on things such as scheduling appointments, getting documents you request, and generally doing everything they can to make the process on you as easy as possible.

You will get a full explanation of the process you were about to undergo. 

We will make sure you understand exactly what the legal process is for your case and what the next steps are. You will have all your questions answered at the consultation, and we will make ourselves available for any follow-up questions you may have on the process.

You will have complete confidentiality and privilege. 

Whether you hire the lawyer you meet with or not, we are bound by law to keep your confidence. That means that nobody but the lawyer you meet with and our staff will ever know you came to meet with us unless you want that information shared. Everything discussed with us will be kept strictly confidential, and in almost every instance, is 100% privileged and not subject to disclosure to anyone. Any exceptions to the privilege will be shared with you as appropriate, but you will be able to speak freely with the lawyer in the consultation at all times.

You will understand exactly how the cost and fees work. 

We will go over the initial retainer you would be required to pay, our lawyers’ hourly rates, and a general estimate of the costs you can expect. It is important to remember that it is extremely difficult to estimate the total cost of a case when the case is not a flat fee case, but we will be able to give you a good idea of what to expect.

You will discuss your goals and how we can achieve them. 

Our job is to not necessarily “win” your case but to find out your goals and craft a strategy about achieving them. In many cases, nobody actually wins, and it is more about getting the best outcome possible.

You will get substantive legal advice that you can use. 

Whether you hire the lawyer you meet with or not, we will give you substantive and useful legal advice that will help you in your case. If there are questions we can’t answer in consultation without more research or work being done, you will be told that up front. In short, the consultation will be well worth your time and your money. You will leave better off than when you started in terms of the information you know.

You will learn that we are always on your side. 

Nobody is more on your team than your lawyer.

You will learn that we are incredibly committed to communicating with you.

One of the chief complaints lawyers get from clients is a lack of responsiveness. We pride ourselves on being extremely responsive to clients, even if it means getting back to you on nights and weekends after a busy day.

You will be listened to and treated with respect during the consultation. 

We may tell you things that you don’t want to hear, but it will be done in a professional and honest manner. The purpose of the consultation is to help you, so we will tell you the good news and the bad news at all times. But you will walk away feeling better having at least more knowledge about your case than when you started.

We hope you will come away from the consultation, not only wanting to hire us but knowing that we are very appreciative of you trusting our firm with a consultation about your very important matter. To schedule your consultation, contact WhitbeckBennett by calling 800-516-3964 or email clientservices@wblaws.com.

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