What to Bring to an Initial Consultation With a Lawyer

Beginning a legal action can be stressful, and most people considering hiring a lawyer are already in a stressful situation. You should do your best to prepare for your initial consultation, to get the most out of the process. An initial consultation can be more than just a quick meeting; it can help you plan your strategy, see potential hazards, and save you further stress during the legal process.

What to Bring

The most important thing to bring is a pen and paper. Even if you have studied your legal situation, you may learn many things during the initial consultation. An attorney can be an invaluable resource: they can ask questions that help you see potential benefits and hazards during the legal process, and offer helpful advice. Be prepared to write down any advice the attorney provides, and to note any questions the attorney will need to have answered in order to help you.

When you contact an attorney to schedule an initial consultation, ask them what information they want you to bring. For example, a bankruptcy attorney may want to see your financial information and a list of your debts. Write down a list of what the attorney requests and prepare all of these documents before your consultation. If you do not know what the attorney would like you to bring, put together a folder of documents. Bring any bills, notices, e-mails, or other communications and documents that are relevant to your legal question.

How to Prepare for Your Consultation

Before your consultation, you should write down any questions you might have. Do not hesitate to ask what you might think is a "stupid" question. Attorneys do not expect the layperson to have a thorough understanding of legal issues, and a good attorney will be eager for you to understand what you should expect and how to participate in the legal process. Remember: understanding your legal action can save you time and money and prevent complications.

Write down a timeline of the situation that has caused you to seek an attorney's help. If you are facing a foreclosure, write down a timeline of missed payments and any communications with your lender. If you are considering a divorce, note any separations, previous legal proceedings, and the events that led to your decision.

Don't Hold Back

Anything you discuss with an attorney during an initial consultation is confidential. Do not hold back from asking or answering questions. If you think information is important, don't keep it to yourself. Any information that you think is relevant can help an attorney give you the best possible advice. Attorneys face severe penalties for revealing anything said to them during a consultation. You should not be afraid to give an attorney every fact and trust them to act on your behalf.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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