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How to Prepare for Your First Meeting with Your Lawyer

Jan 14th, 2021

A lot of clients do not know what to expect in their first meeting with their lawyer and that’s okay. Your first meeting with your lawyer is just about telling your story. Your lawyer will ask you what has happened and try to understand in as much detail as possible. These details can tell your lawyer what your case will look like, the best way to proceed, initial steps that need to be taken, risks that need to be planned for, and much more. Because of this, it is important that you tell your story as accurately and in as much detail as you can. These five ways to prepare for your first meeting are going to help you do just that. Be thorough and be honest. Ultimately, the better your lawyer can understand your story, the better they can advocate for you.

Collect documents and photos and bring them with you.

The first way to prepare for your meeting is to collect any documents, photos, or other physical items that are going to help you explain what has happened. These items will be vastly different depending on your type of case. For a personal injury case, this may be photos of your injury, medical records or bills, or other expenses you have sustained as a result of your injury. For a products liability case this may be the product itself, photos of the product, or the manual that came with the product.

Essentially, think about what physical items would help tell the story of what happened and help someone else understand the details and impact of the situation. Collect all of those items and bring them to the meeting. That said, you should be careful when collecting documents that you have a legal right to possess and use the information – for example you should not collect or take confidential information belonging to someone else without first consulting an attorney.

Create a timeline or list for any complicated or extensive details.

Think about telling your story. Are there several events that all happened in a very specific order? Or, is there a long list of items that are all important? If either of those are true, prepare a rough timeline of the events or write down the list of items. Again, think about what would help you tell the story of what happened and help someone else understand the details.

This will also look different for different types of cases. For an employment case, this may be a rough timeline of every event that lead to your termination. In an auto collision case, this may be a list of the medical providers you have seen since the collision. Simply picture your story, pick out the most complicated or extensive portion, and sketch it out. This will help you tell your own story more effectively and help your lawyer understand your story faster.

Ask your lawyer what you can prepare and bring.

This one is pretty straightforward and will likely overlap with the first two ways to prepare. Before your first meeting with your lawyer, ask how you can prepare for the meeting, what you should bring, and what would be helpful. You may not have everything he or she requests, but try to bring as much as you can. The more you can provide upfront, the faster and more thoroughly your lawyer will understand your story and be able to get to working on your case.

Think about what questions you have and write them down.

The fourth and fifth ways to prepare are thought exercises. Most of the general public does not know the details of how a legal case is run; this is exactly why you are hiring an lawyer. However, that likely means you have a lot of questions. Many people are afraid of the situation they are in because legal consequences can be so daunting.

In the few days before your meeting, start thinking about all of the questions you have. I would strongly encourage you to write them down so that you do not forget any. Often times having your questions answered and having an lawyer walk you through what will happen next can make you feel more comfortable and at ease. Think about what you are worried about happening, what you do not understand, and what seems like a grey area to you. Write all of these down and ask your lawyer to answer each and explain it to you.

Know what your goals are.

What are you hoping to get out of this representation? What are you hoping your lawyer can do for you? What are you hoping the end result of this entire situation will be? Would you be happy with alternative outcomes? What would those look like?

Really take time and think about each of these questions. Consider what you absolutely need out of this situation and consider what your best-case scenario would be. It is important to think about this because it will help your lawyer know your expectations. This is also a good opportunity for you and your lawyer to discuss what outcomes and expectations are reasonable and what is unreasonable.

It is also okay to not know what your goal is at the beginning. You may not even know the possibilities or options. If this is the case, write this down as one of your questions. You should still discuss this with your lawyer and ask what the possible outcomes are, what would a good outcome look like, and what would a bad outcome look like. All of this will further the discussion and help you understand more.

In the end, your lawyer will guide you through the meeting and help you tell your story. Preparing in these five ways will make this first meeting smoother, more productive, and allow your lawyer to better advocate for you.