First Consultation Considerations
A consultation with an attorney may cause some clients to feel stress, but this is normal for those seeking legal assistance. Often people looking for an attorney are facing serious and important legal issues. Many people looking for help with a legal matter find themselves seeking legal help for the first time. It is wise for those who do not regularly hire or engage attorneys, to understand what to expect from a legal consultation. After all, you are investing time, money, and placing your confidence with a person you are just meeting for the first time.
While most people understand that attorneys are bound to a very high standard of ethics, they may still have concerns about placing their trust in an attorney. They may also be concerned and probably are worried they will pay a lot of money and may not get anything out of the consultation.
I understand that my clients need a competent professional that they can trust. I enjoy personally meeting with all my potential clients and to help them to identify their goals, and then provide them with real options they can consider. I spent a lot of time with my clients so that they can make an informed decision about their legal situation.
My clients have often expressed to me that they feel comforted and relieved after hearing my thoughts and advice about their legal issue.
I strive to help each potential client who consults with me to generally understand the core issues and potential solutions based upon the information that they provide to me. I provide this information regardless of whether they decide to retain me to assist them with their legal matter. A successful consultation should result in the potential client understanding their options, an estimated cost of the different options, and our legal opinion with respect to each option.
Prepare for Your Consultation
Question: How should I prepare for my attorney consultation?
RULE: What you tell me is confidential.
You should be prepared to be open, thorough, and honest with me. Be prepared to answer all of the questions posed to you in as much detail as possible.
RULE: Do not try to conceal any information.
Be prepared to divulge all of the information requested (even information that might be difficult to discuss). Do not attempt to convince me that your case is “winnable”. Do not be selective with the information you provide me. I do not make personal judgment about my clients conduct or their actions. You must understand I need to know your situation in detail in order to give you the best legal and practical advice.
RULE: Be an active participant.
I want and need my client’s to actively participate in their own legal matters. You know the facts better than I do. So, write down all of your questions before you come to the consultation. Bring those questions with you.
Fill out all the intake forms requested by my law office as soon as you can prior to your consultation. I will review this in advance if given enough time.
Submit all of the documents in advance that are relevant to your case. If possible, scan all documents to PDF and submit via our secure portal.
Being prompt and on time to your appointment, whether it’s in person, by phone or in a Zoom meeting. If it is by phone, I will call you at your set time. If it is in person, please arrive on time. If the meeting is by zoom, please log into zoom or other online platform that I provide you about 5 minutes before your start time.
The Consultation Experience
What should I expect in a consultation with an attorney?
- I will attempt to provide a thoughtful answer to your questions and will respond to each of your inquires.
- You will be advised as to the possible options along with our opinion as to possible outcomes of those options.
- You will be advised of the estimated cost of the case.
- You will be advised as to the estimated time the case may take, if possible.
- The timeframe for a case or drafting legal documents is out of our control. It may depend on courts, government agencies, other parties, and external events. We will not guarantee you any amount of time that the case will take. I will give you estimates of prior similar cases, but that is no guarantee your case will be processed in that amount of time.
Will the consultation be in person at a Briliant Law Office?
- Consultations are currently available either in person, by phone or by Zoom meeting.
Will I call me when it’s time for my appointment or do I have to call in?
- If you have an office appointment, please show up 5 minutes before your scheduled time.
- If you have a phone appointment scheduled, you are responsible to call into the office at (833) 2-YOU-LAWa few minutes before your appointment start time.
- If you have a Zoom meeting, I will send you an appointment reminder which you will need to confirm. Then please be available and logged in shortly before the start of your meeting.
How long will the consultation be?
- I have done many consultations. Most consultations will last thirty minutes or less. This is usually enough time for me to evaluate your case, answer all your questions, and present you with the next steps in your case.
What if I need to cancel or reschedule my consultation?
- You may cancel or reschedule your appointment without penalty prior to 24 hours of the scheduled appointment by cancelling on your email notification or by contacting my office. A no-show or cancellation within the 24 hours will result in a loss of your consultation fee.
What if the attorney has to reschedule the consultation?
- If for some reason I am unable to attend the appointment, the consultation will be rescheduled to a mutually agreeable date and time.
Results or Effect of Attorney Consultation
By having a consultation with an attorney, does that mean I have an attorney representing me?
No. No legal representation is created by having a consultation with an attorney. While an attorney has an ethical duty to safeguard your confidential information, I will not be legally representing you until an agreement has been signed by both of use and a financial arrangement have been made.
Is a consultation confidential?
Yes, definitely! The attorney-client privilege makes everything you tell the attorney 100% confidential. It cannot be revealed by the attorney.
Other Miscellaneous but Important Questions
Do you have experience in my particular case?
At the consultation we will discuss any potential issue concerning the representation. If there is some issue with my competence to handle your case, I will let you know. I will not take on a case if I am not competent to represent you. There may be aspects of the case or matter that require other expert opinion, such as the advice of an accountant or other expert. This is a normal situation. I will always reach out to those that I believe are needed to adequately address your individual situation.
What if I Speak Another Language?
I am able to help during the meeting with Spanish and English at no charge. However, I am able to provide translation services for any language. These services are generally not free of charge. It is often better if you can bring or have someone present during the consultation to translate for you.
Can I ask about my relative’s case?
Consultations are limited in time and scope. There is only sufficient time to discuss one case and one legal topic.
Who can accompany me in the consultation?
Generally, you may have family members participate in the consultation. However, some issues require that the attorney speak alone with the potential client in order to preserve the attorney client privilege. I will discuss this with you before your meeting.
Documents Needed at Consultation
What documents do I need to bring or submit beforehand?
The types of documents we may need depends on the issues in your case. The list below is not exhaustive but is an example of what you can provide in advance. You do not have to provide everything but the more you submit in advance, the better the consultation and advice will be.
How do I give documents in advance of the consultation?
Tt is always preferable to email pdf files of your documents to our secure sever. I will provide you the proper links once we have spoken with you.
- Passports (including expired)
- I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, copy of green card, front and back, travel documents
- Work permits, i.e., Employment Authorization Document (EAD) cards
- Letters to/from USCIS such as I-797 Receipt Notices, Approval Notices, or Denial Notices
- Copies of all immigration applications that you have done, whether or not you believe the document is relevant to your matter
- Immigration Judge’s Orders and Decrees
- Notices of Immigration Court hearings
- Notice to Appear in Immigration Court, i.e., NTA
- Any documents issued by ICE such as bond documents, requests to appear, etc.
- A list of all entries into and exits out of the U.S.A. Please include (1) place or port of entry or exit, (2) the date of entry or exit dates, (3) method of travel, i.e. air, sea or land
- A copy of your client file from any previous attorney
- Your Criminal Records, if any exist
- Your divorce decree or judgment if you are divorced
- Your birth certificate.
- Your marriage certificate.
Family Law Matters:
- I will communicate what is need depending the nature of the proceeding.
Wills, Trusts and Estate Matters
- I will communicate what is need after our consultation and based upon what your decide to do.
Civil Litigation Matters
- Any Contract
- Names and contact information for the opposing side
- Any pleadings that may have been served upon you.
- All evidence you believe supports your position
Attorney’s Fees, Costs and Other Fees
Legal matters involve more than just attorney’s fees. There are filing fees to the court of other administrative body, certification fees, miscellaneous costs, including, copying, faxing, and travel. All these fees and costs will be discussed with you at the consultation.
How much will my case cost?
This is always a difficult issue because there are so many factors that contribute to the time it will take to adequately address your legal needs. The difficulty, the urgency, and the amount of work are some of the most important factors. The only way to give an estimate of the cost of the case is to have a consultation with an attorney who can review your case, ask questions, and identify strategies.
Do you have payment plans?
Payment is due before the work is completed. The attorney will give a cost estimate at the consultation and explain any available payment options. We work with Lending USA who can assist you with a legal loan if you qualify.
Do you have flat or hourly fees?
Depending on the type of case, you may be offered a flat or an hourly fee. If the case work is predictable and clearly definable, as in drafting a will or trust, a flat fee may be quoted. If your case is unpredictable, like immigration court cases or litigation, you may be quoted an advanced retainer amount that you would need to pay in advance. You would be responsible for the legal fees at an hourly rate depending on the amount of time your case will take to complete.
Why isn’t the consultation free?
My consultations are designed to be valuable to my potential clients. I give accurate and honest answers to your questions. I have a very diverse background in the law, and I am licensed in 3 states California, Nevada and Idaho. I have over twenty-one years of experience and experience matters. I can offer you real solutions to your problems. I spend a lot time preparing in advance for your case by reviewing any submitted documentation and reviewing your intake submission. My time is limited, and I want to be able to effectively help not only my current clients, but also potential new clients. My time, like yours is valuable and I place a value on both. When you finish your consultation, you should have all your questions addressed and wherever possible you will be presented with legal options. These complex areas of law require a vast amount of experience and knowledge in order to assess properly, and I am proud to offer this valuable service to those who pay for a consultation. Most of those who come in for consultations are very satisfied with the experience and engage me to represent them.
After the Consultation
What if I have a question after my consultation?
- I understand that sometimes a question may occur after your consultation. If you’d like to spend more time discussing your case questions, you will have to pay for another consultation. However, if you have a short question within a day or two of your consultation, you are free to send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond to your question. You may be asked to set up another appointment if the question is more demanding than a quick response would permit.
What are the next steps after my consultation?
I will clearly present you your options. If you decide to hire my firm, you will need to sign a written agreement to begin your representation.
What Not To Expect from Consultation
What should I NOT expect at a consultation?
I will not be able to read through voluminous records. I am experienced and can likely quickly identify the relevant documents in a group of files. However, the consultation does not include time consuming, detailed review of documents. So please submit documents in advance of the consultation to give me time to review them.
I will not review forms you have produced and give them “a stamp of approval” for you to file them on your own. If I have not prepared the forms, I cannot be responsible for the content of the forms.
I may not be able to offer you the solution you would like. You have to be ready for the reality that sometimes there are simply no good options. My value lies in my experience based and honest opinion. I will give you my honest advice even if that means you do not have a good option to pursue.
I am not obligated to accept your case, even if you pay for a consultation. I may have a conflict, may not have time in the schedule, or may not feel that I am the right fit to pursue your particular case.
Ronald W. Brilliant
Attorney at law