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What To Expect at an Initial Legal Consultation
If you are contemplating a divorce action or you need help with a child custody matter, you may be ready to schedule an initial legal consultation with a family law attorney. For many people, this might be the first time they have met with an attorney to discuss a legal matter.
Understandably, you might be nervous or anxious because you may not know what to expect. Below is information about initial meetings with lawyers that might answer some of your questions or concerns.
What Is the Purpose of an Initial Consultation?
Many law firms offer either paid consultations or free consultations. It depends on the type of cases and legal services a law firm handles. For instance, most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, while many family law attorneys charge a small fee for a consultation.
Individuals meeting with family law attorneys are seeking specific advice about their situation. For that reason, the attorney charges a small fee, which creates an attorney-client relationship. Attorney-client privilege attaches so that everything is confidential.
In a free consultation, the person does not receive detailed legal advice. The purpose is centered on deciding whether he wants to hire a lawyer and if the lawyer wants to take the case. Legal advice comes after the person hires the lawyer.
What Happens During a Consultation With a Family Lawyer?
When you meet with a family lawyer for a consultation, you usually receive legal advice so you can decide on what is best for you and your children. The attorney begins by asking you questions about the matter that brought you to the office.
After listening to your answers and discussing specific details, the attorney can better understand your legal issues. The attorney also knows whether they can assist you with the case.
The lawyer may then explain the laws relevant to your case and your legal options. She may also discuss the chance of achieving the outcome you desire and how much work may be involved in achieving that outcome. The lawyer may also discuss any problems or issues that could make your case more complicated or challenging to win.
Discussions of Attorney Fees and Costs
If the attorney can handle your case and you want to hire them to represent you, the attorney will discuss fees and costs. Depending on the type of case, the attorney may charge a flat fee or an hourly rate.
Flat fees are a one-time charge for all services performed regarding the case. However, there could be some exceptions. Make sure you ask whether any services are excluded from the flat rate.
Hourly fees mean you are hiring an attorney to handle a case and paying by the hour. The attorney may charge a retainer fee that the attorney will bill against as work is performed.
You are generally required to pay the costs of the case, such as court filing fees, deposition fees, investigator fees, and other costs. When discussing attorney fees, it is good to ask about anticipated costs, so you are prepared to pay those costs while pursuing your case.
Family lawyers do not accept cases on contingency fees. A contingency fee is based on the amount of money an attorney recovers for a client. That does not apply in family law cases.
Preparing for Your Initial Consultation
It is a good idea to create a list of questions you want to ask the lawyer during the consultation. You and the lawyer will likely discuss many topics. It can be easy to forget your questions when you are sitting in the attorney’s office.
Retaining an Attorney To Handle Your Case
Consulting with an attorney allows you to get to know the attorney better and receive answers to your questions about a family law matter. At the conclusion of the meeting, the attorney may tell you to take at least a day or two to consider what you discussed before deciding how to proceed.
In cases involving emergencies or time-sensitive matters, you may retain the attorney immediately following the initial consultation. It all depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.
It is good to remember that you are under no obligation to hire a lawyer. You may seek a second opinion or take time to think about what you want to do. The consultation is for you to get more information about your legal options.