The initial consultation is the first step in the attorney-client relationship. This first meeting sets the stage for the representation and allows the attorney to determine how they can best represent you and your needs. Like any situation, you want to kick things off on the right foot, and create a communicative and trusting relationship. To make the most of your initial consultation, consider the following tips:
1. Be prepared.
We suggest bringing relevant paperwork, as well as any important information in your case. Showing us significant documents, such as notices from the court, can help us get a better picture of what is going on. Attorneys will often request that you fill out an intake sheet, which asks you to provide items such as addresses and birth dates. Having this information handy will help to get things moving.
2. Be honest.
Your attorney is there to help you – hiding information or not being completely straightforward can hurt your case in the long run. Informing us of potential issues up front can help prevent problems for you down the line, and will allow us to tackle the issue head-on instead of being blindsided. Remember, your initial consultation falls under the attorney-client privilege, and will be kept confidential.
3. Trust your attorney.
Attorneys have a duty to represent you to the best of their ability. With the right information, we can help you make a plan for your case that we think is best based on our experience and knowledge of the law. While certain decisions are ultimately up to you, trusting our recommendations can go a long way. We’ll let you know whether a certain idea may work or not, and how to best approach your individual situation.
4. Ask questions.
The initial consultation is a perfect opportunity for you to get an idea of the attorney’s style and to understand how complex your case may be. Don’t be afraid to ask any important questions to ensure that you are getting the full picture of the representation. We are happy to explain the process and help you make the right decision to meet your goals.
5. Keep time in mind.
Keep in mind that consultations can range in time, but often do not exceed one hour. Determine what information you need to get from your attorney in this timeframe, and what you want to make sure we know in return. Make the most of your time by asking the important questions and giving us the most up to date and relevant information.
*About the Author:
Diana C. Schimmel, Esquire is a Partner and Co-Founder with prominent Philadelphia family law firm, Petrelli, Previtera & Schimmel. Diana focuses her practice exclusively on family law and serves clients in the Greater Philadelphia, the surrounding counties and Southern New Jersey. Her practice centers on divorce, child custody, support, adoption & surrogacy, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, domestic violence, modification and enforcement of existing orders, and division of marital property. She is a member of both the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bar Associations Family Law and Women in the Profession Sections, is a recipient of the prestigious Lawyer on the Fast Track Award given by The Legal Intelligencer, is a Top Family Law Attorney as named by Philadelphia Life Magazine and a SuperLawyer Rising Star for the last three years.