Massachusetts divorce lawyer Carmela M. Miraglia reviews the free one-hour consultation between an attorney and new client.
In this edition of the Lynch & Owens Divorce Series, I will discuss the purpose and goals of the initial attorney-client consultation. Here, at Lynch & Owens, we offer a free, one-hour consult to all potential clients. Other Massachusetts law firms offer free shorter or longer consults, while still other attorneys charge potential clients a fee for a consultation. We offer a one-hour, free consultation because we recognize the value of meeting face-to-face with potential clients, and we have have found that understanding a potential client’s case requires about an hour time.
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Most attorneys understand that if you are stepping into our office, you are looking to change something in your marriage or family – and you need help, not pressure. When we first meet with you, we know nothing about your situation. We rely completely on you, the potential client, to supply us with the facts, finances, incidents of concern, and circumstances that comprise the history of your marriage. From these facts, the attorneys begins to identify your potential options, which in turn helps you identify your wants and needs, legal or otherwise, under the circumstances. You must educate us, and the initial consult is the forum for us to learn. Knowing what you should expect at one of our consults will better enable you to prepare for a productive meeting in the short hour of time.
First, expect to talk. Expect to answer very specific questions, and try to stay focused on what the attorney is asking you. Expect to ask questions and to have those questions answered, when possible. Expect to discuss your concerns, your needs, and your wants. Expect that at the end of your hour you will have a better idea of where you stand legally, and that you will leave our office better informed.
Expect some questions to be personal. We’re not here to judge you, we’re here to help you – marriages are very private and personal things, but divorces are not. We may want to know why your marriage ended or why you want a divorce. Have there been allegations of abuse? What are your assets? Is someone to blame, or is the relationship just over and now it’s time to move on? The more we know about you and your specific situation, the better prepared we are to represent you whether it be in negotiations with your estranged spouse or before the court.
It is our job as attorneys to suggest strategies for reaching your legal objectives, but you need to arm us with the information to do that job. We will focus on gathering relevant facts. Sometimes these facts will be favorable to you, and sometimes not – but they’re all important and necessary. It is your job to tell us everything. Speak openly and with candor. Everything we discuss – the good, the bad, and the ugly – is protected by confidentiality, and when we represent you, by attorney-client privilege. Your “secrets” are safe with us. Forever.
In order to adequately and effectively advise you, it is paramount that we get to know you as a person. That means we must learn as much as possible about your legal and financial situation. During that first meeting, you will talk and the attorney will listen, probing into specific areas when needed. Then, armed with the facts, we can discuss the applicable law as it relates to your case, and we can develop strategies going forward to reach your goals and objectives.
To make the most out of your hour you should try to bring the following to your meeting:
- A list of your most important questions and concerns
- Any legal documents that you have in connection with any past or present legal actions between you and your spouse
- Any agreements that already exist between you and your spouse
- Information about your children and any concerns you have regarding their education, welfare or special needs
- Copies of your most recent income tax returns (even better, the last 3 years)
- Documents in connection with your assets, liabilities and income
So, are you ready for your free consult?
About the Author: Carmela M. Miraglia is a Massachusetts divorce lawyer and Massachusetts family law attorney for Lynch & Owens, located in Hingham, Massachusetts.
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