How to Conduct a Case Consultation With a Potential New Client From a DUI Attorney Perspective
Part of my practice is meeting with new potential clients during a case consultation. For any attorney the purpose of this initial consultation is to find out what happened, explain how the attorney can help, and of course answer any and all questions the potential client may have.
However often times it’s not as simple as that. Many times the prospective client has never met with an attorney before, they have never been in trouble before, and they are unsure what to do. In those situations it’s important to have a structure set in place during these meetings as to not waste the client’s time, as well as the attorneys. Because of the uncertainty in these meetings I have developed a structure that I follow which helps me better meet with the client, and allows me to effectively offer my opinion on their situation.
When I meet with a prospective client the first thing I do is introduce myself. Now this may seem silly, but other clients have told me when they meet with other attorneys there was no handshake, no introduction, it was just a spiel like a used car salesman.
After I introduce myself, and ask them if they have any questions off the top of their head. Many times people have questions written down, or questions they want to ask that often go unanswered if the attorney goes right into some rehearsed speech. I feel by answering any questions the client may have right off the bat, then allows for a better transition into the meat of the consultation.
Once the questions are answered or explained then I ask them what happened. I try not to interrupt while the client is telling their story. I take notes while they are speaking, and try to focus on any legal issues I think may be applicable to their case. After they are done speaking I’ll ask my follow up questions to clarify certain things that I heard.
At this point is where I will offer my opinion on their case. If I think a certain legal issue may exist, I will tell them. I have heard some attorneys try to conceal this from the client, so they don’t tell any other attorneys about it. I don’t really think that’s helpful to the client. After all they are meeting with the attorney to get information, it’s counterproductive if they walk away without any info on their case.
I will also explain to them how I can help, maybe discuss similar cases I have had, and how I helped those clients. In the end I try to listen to the client, and be as honest as possible in my opinion and thoughts. It’s important to not try and deceive the client, or trick them into hiring you by promising them the moon. In fact such behavior is unethical, and really is not going to help the client.