What can you expect in a divorce lawyer phone consultation? Here are some things to keep in mind:
• The attorney will not be able to give you free legal advice. This is because the attorney-client privilege only applies once you have retained the attorney, among other reasons.
• Your phone consultation may start with a member of the attorney’s staff, such as the paralegal or case manager.
• The lawyer will discuss the retainer fee and the filing fees. The retainer fee is a deposit that you will pay to the attorney to cover the costs of the initial work on your case. The filing fees are the fees that are required to file the divorce paperwork with the court.
• if the lawyer bills flat rate or offers a flat fee, then they should also explain what work that the rate covers.
• The lawyer or staff may discuss with you how they bill for the work that is done, how payments get made, and how to make the retainer deposit
• The attorney will explain what work they will do on your case. This may include things like drafting pleadings, negotiating with your spouse, and representing you at hearings.
• The lawyer will tell you when they will start working on your case once you have retained them.
• The attorney may discuss how they approach cases, such as by filing pleadings first, or seeing if the matter can settle before the case is filed
• The attorney should disclose how to communicate with the office, such as calling and setting appointments, sending questions by email or through a communications portal
It is important to remember that the phone consultation is just an introductory meeting. The attorney will not be able to give you a definitive answer to any legal questions until you have retained them. However, the consultation can be a valuable opportunity to learn more about the divorce process and to get a sense of whether or not the attorney is a good fit for you.
Here are some additional questions you may want to ask the attorney during the phone consultation:
• How long have you been practicing law?
• What is your experience with divorce cases?
• What is your approach to divorce cases?
• What are your fees?
• Do you take payments?
• How will you communicate with me?
• What are the next steps in the divorce process?
• It is also important to be prepared to answer some questions from the attorney. The attorney may ask you about your financial situation, your children, and other basic information. A lawyer has a duty to keep this information private, even if you do not hire that lawyer, so you should answer such questions honestly.
Here are some additional tips for getting the most out of your divorce lawyer phone consultation:
- Be prepared. Before you call, take some time to think about your situation and to write down some questions. This will help you make the most of your time with the lawyer.
- Be prepared that your consultation will be scheduled later that day or in the next several days. Lawyers are busy professionals and often cannot take every call as they come in.
- Be clear about your goals. What do you hope to achieve with the divorce? Once you know what you want, you can ask the attorney how they can help you achieve your goals. But also, be ready to modify your goals
- Be respectful. The attorney is a professional who is trying to help you. Treat them with respect, even if you are angry or upset.
- Be honest with the lawyer. If you share one set of information on a phone consultation and considerably different facts later, the lawyer might charge you more or even fire you. Lawyers have a duty to keep information confidential. Additionally, some lawyers, like me, only take some cases.
What you should not expect with a consultation
- To get specific answers to questions about legal advice. The practice of law is incredibly nuanced and most good lawyers will not give you free advice for many different reasons.
- To have documents or other paperwork you have drawn up reviewed for no cost. A lawyer cannot advice people or review their paperwork without having an attorney-client relationship.
- To have a lawyer work on your case for free or at a reduced cost. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you might be able to get a reduced cost lawyer at various legal clinics.
- If you call various lawyers, to have different answers to questions, such as how they bill, their hourly rate, and how they would handle your case.
A divorce lawyer phone consultation can be a valuable opportunity to learn more about the divorce process and to get an idea which lawyer might fit your case the best. However, it is important to remember that the attorney will not be able to give you free legal advice. This is because the attorney-client privilege only applies once you have retained the attorney.
If you call my office, you will first speak with my answering service, who get some basic information that they then send to me. I will then email you about some various times when I would be able to call you. Alternatively, you can go chat with LawCat, contact me through my website or call me. I will reach back out to schedule a time when I can talk with you. If your case is not a type of case I take on, I may email you some referrals. Reach out if you are ready to move forward with your uncontested divorce.