Lawyers can be intimidating, but we don’t want to be. If you come away with only one insight from this book, it should be that you too have the right to ask us questions, indeed, you should.
Questions To Ask Before Hiring An Attorney
All of the following are crucial questions to ask, which you deserve and have a right to the answers to:
- What is your experience in this field, and how many years of practicing law in it do you have?
- What is your process?
- Will I have the chance to review my will and make sure that it meets all of my qualifications before I come in and sign the will?
- Will I be sent my will ahead of time so I can review it in my home, to make sure that I catch everything before I come in for the execution of the will?
- Concerning a family law matter:
- Will you be able to handle every aspect of my case or are you going to send me to someone else if I say I need a protective order?
- If I need to have an emergency hearing, is that going to have to be handled by someone else?
It is not necessarily bad to have different lawyers handle different aspects of your case, but doing so will probably increase your cost. Ideally, you want someone who has the ability and experience to handle all aspects of your case, so it can be handled effectively and efficiently in terms of cost.
The Anatomy Of An Initial Consultation:
Identifying Client Needs And Establishing Expectations
The first meeting, that initial consultation over the phone or in person, is often the key to establishing a productive and powerful attorney-client relationship. It is the responsibility of the attorney as well as the client to have that conversation.
For most of you, this is the first time that you are hiring an attorney and you don’t know much about them, the law, or their practice. All you know is what you need, and it is our job as your attorney to figure out what that is, and how we can help.
What we do in our firm is go over the process, identifying each stage of the process and what can come up.
Considering Seeking Help With Family Law?
We will talk you through the full process, everything that can happen, and the pros, cons, and costs of different options. For example, if you are looking at a difficult divorce:
- Will you need to hire an expert?
- Will you need a temporary order?
- Do you need an extensive and detailed parenting plan written or a more flexible one?
We talk about those things at the outset so that you are aware of, and understand, the options from the start; rather than being surprised by them as the process progresses. The same would be true if you were looking to draft a will during an estate planning consultation.
Seeking Estate Planning Assistance?
In estate planning as well, the initial consultation serves as a chance for us to understand your needs, and for you to understand your options as well as their costs, complications, and advantages. For example, if you need to draft a will:
- Who do you wish to be the recipients of your estate? Do any of them have special needs?
- Will the children receiving your estate have the ability to manage the money you’re going to be leaving them or will it be more judicious to leave it in segments so that they can get used to having that kind of money?
- Will you need a trust to manage the funds and their distribution?
The questions are always a mix of technical and personal. Not many clients (and not all lawyers) would think about whether a beneficiary should have all this money in their 20s or 30s. But we can have that discussion with you while educating you on your ability to fashion a plan that is specific to your family.
These are just some of the many kinds of questions an attorney with experience will have for their client at the outset to help them make the right choices. Each question in turn leads to the next, narrowing down your needs so we can develop a plan to meet them.
Your Attorney’s Engagement And Responsibilities
The very first responsibility we owe you, as our client, is to know the right questions to ask. The next, and equally important responsibility, is to keep you informed throughout whatever process we are helping you navigate. Good communication is thus essential to keep you up to date every step of the way.
Providing you with the information you need and deserve about your case is also essential. For example, at our firm, we have a client portal set up where every document is uploaded as soon as it comes into our office, that clients can go to and easily find and review them.
I also have a paralegal who is very good about being available to communicate with the clients or to set up times to communicate with me. These lay the foundations of good communication, the key to establishing and maintaining a good and effective client-attorney relationship.
Another crucial responsibility that an attorney owes you is to make sure that all deadlines are met. Documents need to be submitted on time if you’re in a litigation situation, and it is our job to make sure we know your expectations, and that you know what is needed. If you are drafting a will and expect it to be done quickly, it is our job to establish the timeline, and deadlines and then meet them.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Estate Planning & Family Law, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on Estate Planning & Family Laws in Colorado, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (719) 988-3884 today.
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