Business Law

Business: Meeting with a Lawyer

Now it's time to meet your lawyer to discuss how to handle your business-related legal problem. Here's a list of things to do and keep in mind to help make the meeting worth everyone's time and effort:

  • Treat your first meeting as a business consultation. Dress as nicely as you can. Be polite and courteous. You want to impress the lawyer, just as he wants to impress you
  • Make sure you have all the information or documents the attorney may have asked you to gather when you first spoke on the phone. He may have sent you a questionnaire or form asking for basic information like your full name, address, home telephone number, and your business' name and phone number. On business matters, documentation is critical, so have it available
  • A day or two before your scheduled meeting, call the attorney's office and confirm your appointment. Tell him what materials you've gathered and ask if he needs anything else to help him understand your case
  • Get to the attorney's office a few minutes early. He may be running ahead of schedule and may be able to talk to you earlier than scheduled. It also shows him that you're serious about the case
  • Relax. When you finally meet face-to-face, don't be too anxious to tell your lawyer everything in one breath. Take some time and get to know each other. Your lawyer may want to start with some chit-chat about the weather or your family. It's OK
  • At first, let the lawyer do the talking. He's able to hone in on the background facts he feels are relevant or important. The more prepared you are with completed questionnaires, documents, diagrams and your own questions, the easier this process will be, and the more you will impress the lawyer
  • Be upfront with your attorney. When it comes time to talk about the particulars of your case, answer the attorney's questions truthfully and completely. Remember, if he doesn't take your case, anything you say is protected by the attorney-client privilege, meaning except in very rare instances, he can't tell anyone else about what you say to him
  • If the lawyer is interested in taking your case, he'll go through an educational process with you. You should take the time to make an honest assessment of your opposition and, if asked, be able to explain your opinion to the lawyer. Forget the huffing and puffing. Give your lawyer the straight scoop
  • The attorney may give you some options about what you can do next in your case. Listen to all the options, and if you don't understand something, ask him to explain again. Ask him what he would do if he was in your position. Use your business sense when considering the options
  • Depending on how well prepared you are, the lawyer may even be able to give you advice on what can be done immediately. This could be especially important when time is of the essence. For example, if your business has been sued and you need to file a response to the lawsuit immediately, you'll want a lawyer to get on the matter right away. By the end of your meeting, you should leave with a clear understanding of what you've accomplished
  • Ask for references from clients he's helped in the past. They can tell you a lot about the lawyer. If he refuses to give you some references, you may want to look for another attorney
  • Ask the attorney if he'll handle the case personally or if a paralegal, assistant or another attorney in the law firm will handle it under his supervision. You're paying for an experienced attorney, so make sure that one's taking care of your case
  • Be clear on what's to happen next, and then be sure to follow through on whatever you've been asked to do by your new attorney. The attorney will insist on cooperation from your end. Be sure to ask the lawyer how he would prefer to communicate with you, and then keep in contact with him regularly
  • If you and the lawyer are ready to move forward, it's time to talk about the charges for his services. You may be given a retainer or a legal services agreement. The lawyer should explain it to you. Read and understand the document before you even think about signing it. At that time, or before he actually does any work, you may be asked to pay a retainer or deposit up front. Have your checkbook or a credit card with you to pay that day, if possible. It shows the attorney you're serious about your case and ready and able to pay for his help
  • If your attorney contacts you later and asks for more information or documents, do your best to get him what he asks for as soon as possible

At the end of your first meeting, you should have a good idea of what can be done in your case, how your attorney plans to handle things, and how long it will take. It's an important step in helping you solve your business problem.

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This article was verified by:
Robert H. Ellis | May 26, 2015
121 West Forsyth Street, Suite 800
Jacksonville,FL
32202
(904) 342-6009 View Profile
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