An initial consultation provides a great opportunity for a prospective client to meet with a lawyer and gain valuable information about their case. The consultation also provides a chance for both individuals to “get a feel for each other.” In other words, the prospective client is looking for a “good fit.”
Yet, this is a two-way street; the lawyer, in turn, is also interviewing the prospective client. And like any good relationship, the two must commit to each other.
An excellent consultation consists of the following:
1. Gather Facts – Most lawyers love to hear themselves talk; but, when looking for a lawyer, it is far better to seek one who listens. It is imperative that the lawyer understands the particular and unique facts of your case. Thus, he must “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
2. Identify the Issues – After listening to the prospective client intently, a good lawyer will identify the appropriate legal issues.
3. State the Law – Once the issues are defined, the lawyer should expound upon the law as it applies to the prospective client’s case.
4. Provide Alternatives – Prospective clients are interested in their choices. A good lawyer will provide options and walk through the strategy behind the respective alternatives.
5. Explain the Process – Most people who find themselves in the mix of litigation never imagined this as a possibility; therefore, it is important to detail the process of the case, as knowledge and understanding will help reduce fear. A good lawyer will review deadlines, attorney fees and the use of retainers, as well as answer any other questions the prospective client may ask.
Ultimately, an initial consultation should provide a prospective client with a detailed and honest assessment of their case.