Most people view a consultation with a law firm as a quick discussion to determine what the lawyer can do to help the potential client. At the Law Office of Lisa Vance, we want to use our consultations with potential clients to effectively determine the best course of action in any particular case.
At our firm, your consultation starts before your first meeting with an attorney. Your initial phone call includes a screening process which serves many purposes, including determining the type of case we’re dealing with and pinpointing any obvious factors that might complicate the litigation. This information helps me use the initial consultation to get more familiar with the person I’ll be representing, but more importantly, to walk through what options we have and to determine the best course of action for moving forward.
When I meet with someone for the first time, I’m certainly looking to get to know that person and his or her story. In fact, I often begin by asking the person what prompted his or her decision to schedule a consultation with an attorney. It could be a slow build-up of frustrations, an instant angry reaction to some breach of trust, or it could be more complicated than that. I ask that question not only to open the lines of communication, but also to assess what the immediate issues are, the level of conflict between the parties, and what the potential client really wants out of the litigation.
While I get a lot of information up front, as do the other lawyers in the firm, the initial consultation provides me the opportunity to gain an intuitive understanding of how the relationship will work. It’s also helpful to analyze which attorney in our firm will best fit a potential client’s needs, as well as to develop a litigation plan, in order to facilitate the ability to begin work on a case at the time of hiring.
Of utmost importance during the consultation, potential clients must be totally honest, both in what you’re saying and in what you’re feeling. I recently had a consultation – not my first of this kind, to be sure – during which the potential client finally revealed a key detail just before the scheduled end of our consultation that made the case much more complicated. While it was good to know that then, it would have been more cost-effective to address the detail up front to avoid backtracking in developing a litigation plan. To that end, know that everything you say in your consultation is confidential and that we at the Law Office of Lisa Vance are not judging, but simply gathering information to provide the most effective representation possible.
Finally, we also use the initial consultation to review how the billing process works, and how much the initial retainer will be. Please know there is no way we can estimate how much a case will cost in total. We can’t control what the other party does, only what we do. We can project how it will go if the other party is cooperative vs. combative, as well as how going to court might add to the price tag. We can also talk about ways you can lower the costs of your representation by taking an active role in your case and by addressing issues early on.
Our consultations are so much more than a quick determination of whether we can help. We use our consultations with the focus of transitioning into representation seamlessly. We want to get to know you but also to determine how we can best tailor our representation to achieve what’s best for you and your family.