How to get the most out of your initial consultation with a lawyer.

How to get the most out of your initial consultation with a lawyer.

We understand that this may be the first time that you have had to seek the assistance of a lawyer. The following tips should help you understand the process and get the most out of your initial consultation.

Lawyers have a duty of confidentiality towards their clients. This means you should feel free to confide in your lawyer. Although you may find it difficult to talk about issues that are sometimes very personal in nature (especially those involving close relationships or criminal matters), rest assured that the information you give your lawyer is between you and her or him. That said, you can bring along anyone else to the consultation that you feel comfortable with and would like to have present as a support person.

It is good to prepare for your first consultation; it can greatly assist you in making an efficient use of time and clarifying your goals in respect to your matter.

It is important that you try and take all relevant documents regarding your matter to your first consultation with your lawyer. In addition to this, you should take a document that verifies your own identity. In NSW lawyers are required to verify the identity of their clients and establish their clients’ right to deal in a wide range of matters. Some of the documents which may be relied upon include:

  • Passport
  • Australian Driver’s Licence or Photo Card
  • Change of Name/Marriage Certificate
  • Birth Certificate/Citizenship Certificate/Descent Certificate
  • Medicare or Centrelink card

You should think about other documents that are likely to assist your lawyer to understand your case. Examples may include: Certificate of Title to a property; Police Reports; documents that have been filed at a court; emails; marriage certificates; mobile-phone texts; photographs; pertinent audio recordings or videos you have received. Try and organise the documents in chronological order (from oldest to most recent). This will make it easier for you to explain your story. Also make copies of the documents. Frequently your lawyer will want to keep your documents to assist in preparing your case. If you are unsure whether you should bring a certain document, it is better to bring it. Your lawyer can help you sought out what may be a relevant document and what may not.
At AZ Legal we also encourage our clients (if possible) to email relevant documents to us prior to an initial consultation. This way the lawyer has more knowledge of your matter in advance.

Prepare a chronology of key facts related to your matter; identifying the key dates and names of key persons should assist you in being able to communicate your story to the lawyer. You might also like to explain your story diagrammatically; a plan, sketch, or drawing of what happened can both assist you in piecing together what took place and aid your lawyer’s understanding of key issues surrounding the event. This is particularly so when dealing with criminal and personal-injury cases.

You should also consider what you would like to see happen regarding your matter. For example, “I want sole custody of my son because I believe my husband presents a danger to him”; or, “I want to make a claim against my former employer because I think I was wrongfully dismissed”. This way the lawyer can advise you as to the practicality of your goals in terms of the law.
Generally a lawyer will talk to you about your rights and what to expect to be a likely outcome of your case. However, you should also be aware that sometimes the lawyer may need further information before s/he can do this.

After your initial consultation, you should have not only a greater understanding of legal rights in respect to your matter but also options that may be available to you plus an increased awareness of the legal processes you may encounter.