How do I prepare for a first meeting with an attorney?

I begin every initial client meeting with a simple question:  “Why don’t you give me a little background on what brought you here?”  Essentially, you will need to be prepared to tell your story.  Although not required for the first meeting with your attorney, if you have typed up a history of your marriage and the circumstances leading up to your divorce, that is certainly useful for your attorney have assuming you hire the attorney you are meeting with to represent you in your divorce.  While these comments are assuming you have a divorce matter, they apply similarly to any post-divorce, custody, or other family law matter.  You need to be able to provide background and explain the gist of the conflict, so that the attorney you are meeting with can provide you with information about what might be the best process for you to resolve your matter and with other basic legal advice about the issues you need to resolve.

In every initial client meeting I’m also going to ask: “What questions do you have?”  While you should expect to hear generally about the law concerning your issues and what process might be best for you to pursue to resolve your issues, you should also think about specific questions you may have that you want answered at that initial meeting.  While you may find some top ten lists of questions to ask a divorce lawyer by googling on the internet, chances are you will be much better off coming up with your own questions based on what you are really concerned about.  For example, perhaps your greatest concern is that you be able to stay in the house, so you’ll want to ask your attorney:  “Will I be able to stay in the house?  For how long?  If your biggest concern involves custody arrangements for the children, then focus your questions on that issue.  If you have lots of concerns, you should have a long list of questions for your lawyer and you may need to schedule a second meeting!

Overall, the vast majority of my clients, when leaving their initial meeting at Cole Miller PLLC, have an overwhelming sense of relief.  It may sound surprising since they are at the very beginning of a difficult process, but they seem to be relieved that they are doing what they need to do to address their issues and they now are able to share that burden with a trained professional who is charged with protecting their interests!

Author: Teresa S. Cole