Some firms, like Grosse Pointe Law Center, offer a free initial strategy sessions with potential clients. Make the most of that meeting by being prepared. Here are some tips:
- Ask the attorney to send you a copy of the retainer agreement and intake form before the meeting. Have the intake form completed for the meeting. Read the retainer agreement and make sure you understand it (don’t sign it until after you’ve met with and determined that you’re comfortable with that person as your attorney).
- Google the attorney. Find out his or her background. Have there been disciplinary proceedings before? Do clients give good reviews? Does the attorney specialize in family law?
- Have a list of questions prepared beforehand.
- Bring all paperwork with you if your case is already filed (better yet – scan and e-mail or fax the documents to the firm a few days before the meeting).
- Show up on time.
- Take good notes during the meeting.
- If your case is already filed, make sure to let the attorney know about upcoming court dates and deadlines.
- Have some knowledge of what you expect from the process and make your expectations clear right from the get go.
- Ask about your attorney’s style and see if it’s compatible with yours. Some family law lawyers believe it’s best to be aggressive from the start; some think it’s more productive (and less expensive for the client) to begin by looking for common ground.
- If it’s not all included in the retainer agreement, ask your attorney about hourly rates, billing practices, whether there are support staff that will help keep costs down, etc. (you shouldn’t be paying an attorney’s hourly rate for work that can be done by a file clerk!). Also find out if the attorney you met with will be your primary contact throughout the process.
- Ask your attorney how best to contact him or her – some more technologically advanced attorneys might not have a problem with e-mails or texts and you’re more likely to get quicker responses this way. Make sure the attorney will be available and responsive.
If you feel comfortable with and confident about the attorney, do whatever is requested of you to allow the attorney to start working to get you the results you’re looking for.