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How to Prepare for a First Interview with a Lawyer

1. Assemble as many facts, documents and items related to your case as you can and take them with you to the interview.
2. Organize your thoughts and state your needs as clearly as possible: be assertive. Your initial goal should be to find a lawyer with whom you are comfortable and at ease when discussing your particular problem.
3. Remember, your first interview does not commit you to staying with that lawyer. You may wish to “shop around” until you are satisfied.

Describe your position as thoroughly as possible so that the lawyer will be able to determine whether or not your problem is a legal one.
If you are not familiar with any words or terms used by the lawyer in the course of the interview, do not hesitate to ask for an explanation of them.

1. Expertise
Enquire about the lawyer’s expertise:
(a) Does the lawyer specialize in your type of problem?
(b) What steps are involved in solving the problem?
(c) How much experience does the lawyer have in resolving your type of problem?

2. Time Estimate
Try to get an estimate of the time involved:
(a) Is the lawyer available immediately?
(b) What steps are involved in solving the problem?
(c) Approximately how long will each step take?
(d) Approximately how long will the whole case take?

3. Cost Estimate
Try to get an estimate of the expense involved:
(a) Approximately how much will it cost to solve your problem (including both the lawyer’s fees and other expenses)?
(b) If the case goes to court, what is the likelihood of your success-will you have to pay your opponents and/or your own court costs and lawyers fees?
(c) When will the bill come? (At the end of the case or periodically?)
(d) How does the lawyer charge? Does the lawyer charge a flat rate or does the lawyer charge by the hour?
(e) Does the lawyer charge for all phone calls?

4. Other Problems
Sometimes a solution to a legal problem is simple and straightforward. However, most cases involve some uncertainties in both the proving of facts and establishing and applying the law.
You may therefore be interested in asking your lawyer such questions as:
(a) What are the potential difficulties in your case? Is the law clear? Is there enough evidence to justify bringing a law suite?
(b) What can be done to help speed things up or reduce costs?
(c) Are there other approaches to solving your problems such as settling out of court or using a social service?