Meeting a lawyer for the first time? Follow this advice

If you’ve been injured in an accident, are writing a will or purchasing real estate, there are many steps you need to take – including finding a lawyer.

When you’re meeting a lawyer for the first time, there are many things to consider. Attorney Christopher Welch, of Budash and Welch, LLP, offers his advice:

1. Bring your paperwork

“They need to bring with them any paperwork related to their matter,” Welch said.

If you’ve filed your case with a court, an official document regarding your legal matter will be provided. In criminal cases, a formal report would be filed from the police.

Have all of these documents handy before your appointment.

However, if your paperwork has not been issued yet, Welch said that you should not wait before contacting an attorney. An initial consultation can be held right away, and a second held when your paperwork is officially filed.

2. Be prepared to tell the whole truth

Sometimes it’s not easy to confide in a person that you’re just meeting for the first time.

“A client needs to understand that when they come here anything they talk about, whether or not they hire us, is confidential,” Welch said. “They need to be open and honest with us so that we can make a fair assessment of their case.”

Should the whole truth not be told during an initial consultation, it could effect the outcome of a case.

3. Have realistic expectations

Welch said that, when you’re first contacting a lawyer, you need to maintain realistic expectations about the initial consulation.

“The purpose of the initial conversation is not to render legal advice or take action on their matter,” Welch said. “Generally we will not take action on their matter until we have been retained or hired to work on the matter.”

Common questions for attorneys during an initial consultation, Welch said, are:

  • Do you handle these types of cases?
  • Does my case have merit?
  • What are your fees?

Another item of advice that Welch offers those in need of a layer is “do your homework and shop around.”

“Just because an attorney has the cheapest fee or has the most experience handling a subject matter doesn’t mean that you’re going to get along with that person or relate to that person,” he said. “You have to be comfortable with the attorney that you hire.”