Every lawyer gets a license to act as an “Attorney and Counselor at Law.” A consultation is the “Counselor at Law” part of the job. The purpose of an initial consultation is to obtain from a prospective client the factual details of the legal dispute or question, and to explain, to the extent possible what actions and alternatives are available under the law.
Exactly what we ask a prospective client to prepare for, bring to, and do at a consultation is detailed in the handouts posted below titled “Consultation Policies, Procedures, and Costs & Litigation Goals,” “What We Need You to Tell Us at a Consultation,” and “What to Provide in a “Chronology” or Time Line” of Events.” They also explain the fees charged, and other administrative matters.
If, after consultation, the prospective client wishes to hire this office, and we are willing to accept the case, then we enter into a specific agreement for the work to be performed. It is our policy to have a written Retainer Agreement for all cases we handle, and like any other formal contract, it should be entered into by both sides with a complete understanding of the relationship, and of rights and obligations, which are generally described below on this page.
As a general matter, the client is “in charge” of the case, in the sense of determining the goals and objectives of the representation, and making strategic decisions such as whether or not to settle on specified terms. This is both an ethical duty imposed on lawyers, and a commonsense recognition that it is your case, not ours. After all, it is the client who must live with the consequences of the decisions made in the case.
Left to the lawyer are tactical matters; what motions to file, whether or not to grant continuances, which arguments should be raised at a hearing, how to question a witness, etc. These are matters that our training and experience make us best suited to decide. The client is free, of course, to ask questions, give suggestions, or offer criticism on such matters, but a lawyer has an obligation in such matters to use his or her best judgment.
As to monetary matters, this office operates on a retainer basis. Essentially, we are paid in advance, the money is deposited in trust, and we bill against the sum held, which must be replenished monthly. Any money remaining on deposit in trust at the conclusion of the case is refunded to the client. Full details are spelled out in our Retainer Agreement.
We have made an effort to clearly define the rights and obligations of both client and attorney in our handouts and retainer agreement in plain English. No client should enter into an agreement with an attorney without fully understanding those terms and conditions: both what is expected from the client, and what the client should expect from the attorney.
If you are considering hiring this office, please read all of the following documents carefully. If there is anything you do not fully understand, please bring those questions to the attention of our staff for a full explanation before arranging and attending a consultation with our office or executing a retainer agreement. If you need wire transfer details, please contact our Firm Administrator.