When faced with legal issues, seeking professional legal counsel is often the first step towards finding a resolution. However, making the most out of your initial consultation with a solicitor requires thorough preparation. In this article, we provide you tips to help you get the most out of your first meeting with a lawyer.
Before the consultation
- Prepare your documents: The foundation of any legal case rests on evidence. Gather all relevant documents and evidence that could play a pivotal role in your case. Depending on the nature of your situation, this could include, for Family Law matters: Marriage certificates, financial statements, custody agreements, and previous court orders; for Criminal Law matters: Any paperwork related to the charges, such as arrest records or bail papers.
- Timeline of events: To provide your legal representative with a clear picture of your situation, create a timeline of significant events related to your case.
- List of questions: Jot down any questions or concerns you have about your case, the legal process, fees, or any other relevant topics.
- Previous legal engagements: If you’ve engaged with other lawyers or have been through legal proceedings related to your current case, make a note to share this with the lawyer you are meeting.
- Confidentiality: Keep in mind that all information shared with your lawyer is confidential. Prepare to be open and honest during the consultation.
- Legal objectives: Determine what you aim to achieve from the legal process. For example, if you are seeking advice on a Family Law matter, are you aiming for a property split? If you are discussing a Criminal Law matter, are you looking to reduce charges, obtain a plea deal, or proceed to trial?
During the consultation
- Honesty: Be completely transparent with your lawyer. They can provide the best assistance when they have a full understanding of the situation.
- Ask about next steps: Ask your lawyer what you can expect next in the legal process and any actions you’ll need to take.
- Understanding fees: Ensure you understand the fee structure, any retainer requirements, and if there are potential additional costs.
- Communication: Ask the solicitor you meet with when you can expect to hear from them, and what the best way to contact them is.
- Clarify any doubts: If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask for clarification.
After the consultation
- Follow up: If the lawyer provides you with tasks or homework, ensure you follow through. This could be gathering more documents, connecting with potential witnesses, etc.
- Stay organised: Create a dedicated folder or digital space where you keep all documents, notes, and correspondence related to your case.
- Seek support: Legal matters can be emotionally taxing. Consider seeking counselling or support groups to help manage stress and emotions.
- Stay informed: Understand your rights and responsibilities. The State Library of NSW offers the Find Legal Answers website, a free repository of information on your rights and responsibilities across different areas of the law.
- Second opinion: If you feel uncertain after the consultation, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion. It’s essential you trust and feel comfortable with your lawyer.
This list of considerations will help you get the most out of your initial consultation and set you up with a positive foundation for your ongoing relationship with your solicitor.
At Tonkin Drysdale Partners, we have been providing trusted advice to clients since 1958. Contact us to discuss your legal concern and let one of our experts guide you through potential solutions.