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What to Expect from a Free Consultation with an Attorney

Posted on 04/22/24 by admin in Personal Injury

If you’ve encountered any advertising material from a personal injury attorney, you’re likely familiar with the phrase “free consultation.” The expectation of a free, no commitment consultation is often inserted at the end of a law firm’s marketing pitch like a bag of French fries with a fast food sandwich meal. This standard practice in the legal profession allows persons seeking to pursue legal action to “shop around” and find an attorney they feel is right for them. But what exactly is discussed in these meetings? And what questions should be asked to ensure that a given attorney is “the right one?” Malloy Law would like to educate prospective clients in our community on how to navigate a free consultation with an attorney, and what they may expect from these meetings.

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Overcoming the Power Imbalance

Let’s set the scene. You have arrived at the offices of a personal injury law firm for a free consultation. You are seeking representation to pursue just compensation for your injury and other expenses and losses. In addition to your injury, you may be emotionally traumatized, and under severe stress in the wake of a serious accident or injury. The attorney you are meeting with has their name on the door, they employ all the people you interact with in the office staff. Their degrees are displayed proudly. You meet them at a large conference table or on either side of a large desk. They are, in short, on their home turf. Baring all this in mind; anyone can be forgiven for feeling somewhat intimidated by a preliminary meeting with an attorney.

Any person seeking legal representation should keep the following in mind. If your case has any value at all, you are the one with the power. It is contingent on the attorney to impress you, and convince you that they are the best equipped for handling the unique circumstances of your case. Any attorney that talks over you, condescends to you, makes you feel intimidated, or tries to win your business with flashy accolades is almost certain to be an attorney not worth working with.

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The Hard Facts

Think of this consultation with your prospective attorney like a job interview. They would like to know the specifics of your case so they can evaluate it and formulate a plan of action. You’d like them to display certain qualities to convince you that they are the right person for the job. You’d also like to know more mundane, specific facts to get a sense of what working with this attorney day to day will be like.

In preparing for your consultation, you should be sure to bring any and all hard evidence regarding your case. This may be paperwork, such as a police report, a medical bill, or a mechanic’s bill in the case of a car or motorcycle crash. This may mean surveillance videos or photos of the scene of the accident. If you suspect it may be relevant to building a case, bring it along. The more your attorney knows, the more specific they can be in formulating a plan, in addition to estimating the value of your case.

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Asking the Right Questions

The following is a brief list of questions you may wish to pose to an attorney at a preliminary meeting. Keep in mind that many attorneys will have certain vital facts (such as their law school and number of years of experience) listed on their website.

  • “How often do you handle this type of case?”
  • “Can you give me an example of a case you’ve handled similar to mine?”
  • “How long do you estimate that this case will take?”
  • “What legal strategy will you pursue on my behalf?” (settlement, mediation, arbitration, etc.)
  • “Who will be my point of contact for this case?”
  • “How would be best to get in touch with my attorney?”
  • “Will you handle my case, or is another attorney going to be assigned to me?
    • “If so, what are their qualifications?”
  • “How often will I receive updates?’
  • “What do you need from me?”

Take notes on these questions, and the responses you receive. Think about these responses and how comfortable they make you. You may be doing business with your attorney for many months to come. It’s important to be sure before committing to a given law firm.

Money Talks

Of course, arguably the most relevant question to selecting an attorney will concern the compensation for their services. Some attorneys may request a retainer, an up-front payment for services which will then be billed at an hourly rate.

However, many personal injury attorneys operate on the contingency fee system. This system requires no up-front payment at all. The attorney simply takes their payment after the fact from compensation secured. Furthermore, depending on who exactly is handling the particulars of your case, they may bill clients at different rate. The more details you receive on what expenses to expect, the better.

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Contact Malloy Law for a Free Consultation

Here at Malloy Law Offices, we’re proud to emphasize an empathetic, client- first approach to the practice of law. Our experienced and diverse staff reflects the vibrant community of the greater Washington DC area. If you or a loved one has been injured by another’s negligence, contact Malloy Law today and let’s win your case.