In looking at blogs and websites for attorneys, ours included, attorneys try to be helpful and point potential clients in the right direction. However, we sometimes forget that what may be “old hat” to us is very new to you, the potential client. With that in mind, here a few pointers to keep in mind when you come meet with an attorney for the first time:
1.Be Prepared: Often, the attorney you are meeting with knows you from an email or a cold call to the office. He or she will know limited information about your case, but not the details that are necessary to assess your best course of action. Filling out an intake, if provided beforehand, is an excellent way to introduce you to the attorney and lets that person see what issues may be present in your case.
2.But Don’t Be Overly Prepared: Some attorneys recommend that potential clients bring in the proverbial kitchen sink with them when they come to meet for the first time. While it is good to get documents ready and have them on hand, five years of tax returns will do little to help at the initial consultation stage. The same can be said of months’ worth of emails and text messages. These documents may very well become important down the road, but at this initial first meeting, having a concise story with a few examples is much more helpful to the attorney.
3.Remember, Time is Money: Here at Parvey, Larson, and McLean, we offer a free initial consultation with potential clients. However, that is not the case for all firms, nor does it usually mean that the entirety of the consultation is free. Instead, it is common for the time that exceeds the free initial consult to be billed at the attorney’s hourly rate and collected at the end of the meeting. To get the most out of your initial meeting, and the get the best value, have an idea of what your most pressing questions are when you meet with the attorney. You will always have questions (and we may even have the answers), but the more general information you can get initially, the better you will feel.
4.Sometimes it Clicks (and Sometimes it Doesn’t): Choosing an attorney is a very personal and important decision to make. As a result, you need to feel comfortable with the person that you are hiring as your advocate. Remember, you will be a team moving forward. Without teamwork, and the aspects that come along with that, it will be difficult to move forward in your matter. If you don’t feel “it” with the attorney you meet with, that is ok.
5.Trust the Process: Generally, divorce is not a short or easy undertaking. It often results in months of uncertainty and upheaval in your life. However, it does not have to be chaotic. Divorce, like most everything in life, is a process. There are starting points, midpoints, and an ending. There may be some required actions along the way. If you know and understand this process, there will be fewer surprises and less anxiety for you on the journey.
6.Divorce is not about Winning and Losing: It is difficult to understand what a win or a loss is in family law. This is because many cases end in a compromise. If you focus on winning, you may lose sight of the compromise that is best for you and your family. Lawyers don’t keep a tally of their wins and losses, and neither should you.
7.Aggression Leads to the Dark Side: People often call asking if an attorney is aggressive. We will tell you now: we are not “aggressive” attorneys. Aggressive attorneys fight every battle, regardless of the cost or outcome for you or the impact on your case. They cannot pivot, and they often cause more problems than your case had to begin with. Aggressiveness is not a good trait in family law. Agility is. An agile attorney, much like the tightrope walker or dancer, can move with the flow of your case. He or she can make the necessary moves to strengthen your case without alienating the other side and the Court. An agile attorney knows when a case needs a firm demand or a gentle nudge. An agile attorney will out–maneuver an aggressive attorney. It is best to be agile.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, our hope is that you will find it helpful when choosing an attorney to guide you through this change in your life. We at Parvey, Larson, and McLean are here to help you take that first step.