Prepare Yourself: 14 Questions To Ask Your Lawyer At The First Meeting

Couple reviewing legal document with their lawyer

Having to see a lawyer and answer a lot of questions can be difficult enough, depending on the stressfulness of your circumstances.

That’s why it’s best to come prepared with a series of questions of your own to determine how your situation might play out from a legal standpoint.

When your questions are answered honestly and openly, it will also put your mind at ease when dealing with a lawyer you do not know for the first time.

At Ryan & Seton Lawyers, we understand how difficult it can be sometimes to accept that a lawyer is often the best way forward, whether it be in relation to a family or property matter, or perhaps a business relationship that has soured.

Write down a summary of your matter before speaking with or meeting with us, including questions and the contact information for all parties involved. We may need to see any relevant documents you have collected. Prepare yourself as much as you can to avoid delays.

When making your initial appointment, some questions to ask include:

  • In the first meeting, what documents should I bring?
  • What is the cost of my first appointment?
  • What is the name of the lawyer I will be meeting with?

Whatever your concerns may be, when looking for legal advice, we have compiled a list of 14 key questions you should ask your lawyer. We are confidently able to answer all of these questions and more for you, if you would like to make an appointment with us.

The First Meeting: Questions To Ask

We recommend that you bring a list of questions to the first meeting with the lawyer. By doing so, you will help the lawyer provide you with accurate legal advice at the appointment.

  1. Can you briefly explain the law behind my legal matter?

Every situation is different, so it’s important to understand what is going on around you, in order to best prepare for what needs to happen. We will walk you through everything you need to consider in order to protect yourself and deliver you the best possible outcome.

  1. What experience do you have with my kind of problem?

Our offices have specialists across business and commercial law, civil disputes and litigation, court representation, criminal law, debt recovery, family law, personal injury and motor vehicle accidents, probate and deceased estates, property law and conveyancing, retail and commercial leases, wills and estate planning and traffic law. So it is likely we will have a lawyer who has experience in your legal matter. 

  1. What steps are involved in solving my issue?

It’s important to get an idea of the process involved in reaching a conclusion to your legal matter. We will map out what happens next and what you should be doing as the matter develops. You and your lawyer should be transparent at all times.

  1. What work will you be doing?

It’s a good idea to ask what work the lawyer will be undertaking on your behalf so you can both understand the process as well as provide any relevant feedback or documents during this time. Your lawyer should be accountable at all times.

  1. How long will it take? How long should I expect to retain your services?

Having a rough indication of how long legal proceedings will take will give you the chance to prepare yourself and your calendar for the road ahead. While timelines can never be set in stone, you can get a guide on how long certain procedures usually take to resolve.

  1. What are the costs likely to be? How do I make payments? And when?

Knowing the costs involved from the start allows you to budget and plan ahead. Certain tasks can be done by yourself to save you some money, but having clear cost estimates – or confirmed fixed fee arrangements, if applicable – gives you surety in knowing you’re not going to be hit with a big surprise at the end of the engagement period. Again, fees and disbursements are always subject to change depending on the extent of the work involved, but seeing a costs estimate at the outset allows you to see where the money is going.

  1. If I’m taking action against someone, what are my prospects of success?

You can ask from the start how likely you are to be successful in a court case. Your lawyer will indicate all options available to you, and which one/s is most likely to offer you the best outcome. 

  1. Can I ask for a progress report?

Your lawyer will communicate with you when necessary, but you can also check on how your legal matter is progressing. Ryan & Seton Lawyers have excellent support staff who can fill you in on where your case is at.  

  1. Can you begin work immediately?

Sometimes lawyers are hamstrung by court delays and may not be able to commence work on your case straight away. Talk with your lawyer about how soon you can begin work, and what may be needed to speed up the process for you.

  1. Is there anything I can do to reduce my costs?

Your lawyer is there to help, guide, support and work on your behalf. But there are times when you can step in and work on parts of your case which will be cheaper for you to do so in the long run. Talk to your lawyer about how you can save some money by working on elements of your case which don’t require specific legal expertise. It is also important to provide all requested information and documents your lawyer may request in a timely manner. If they have to repeatedly ask for things or chase you up, that can increase both delays and costs.

  1. Would it be better to try to negotiate a settlement?

Sometimes. Your lawyer can guide you on what may work out best for you in the long run, if costs are a major barrier for you. Ryan & Seton Lawyers always aims to find a solution that does not involve having to go to court.

  1. Are there other ways of solving my legal problem?

When discussing the process, it’s good to keep an open mind and try to find solutions that don’t require the most aggressive or expensive approach. Emotions can run high and, if you’re able to consider all the options available, you may find the solution that works for everybody.

  1.  What percentage of your practice is devoted to my type of legal matter?

Ryan & Seton Lawyers has been on the Coast for over 40 years – we’ve worked on a lot of cases, and you’d be surprised how much of our time is devoted to legal matters just like yours. We have the right lawyer for you.

  1. Who else in the firm would work on my case?

Once you are assigned a lawyer with us and you’ve had your initial consultation with them, they will be your representative. Our lawyers have legal secretaries and paralegal support staff who they will call on to help them when required. Similarly, other lawyers may assist from time to time to ensure the right work is done by the right person. In all cases, our team will be fully briefed and you will never by charged for ‘bringing another team member up to speed’. You will have your own lawyer who will oversee your case and their secretary will keep the lines of communication open between you both.

When The Meeting Is Over

Do what is asked of you

Ensure you follow your lawyer’s instructions as soon as possible so that he or she can better serve you. You may, for example, be asked to provide additional information. Get a list of what needs to be provided and when they need it by.

Stay in contact 

There is often a long delay in resolving legal matters. Make sure you are updated on the progress of your matter by your lawyer. Identify how often you will be informed and by what method. And inform your lawyer immediately if your personal or legal circumstances change.

Listen to your lawyer’s advice

Take your lawyer’s advice seriously. They are trained and experienced professionals. Your lawyer, as your advocate, is obligated to make recommendations based on your best legal interests, even when you don’t want to hear them. And always tell your lawyer if you have any concerns regarding your personal safety or if there is a significant change in your personal circumstances.

Ryan & Seton Lawyers is a dynamic and progressive firm on the NSW Central Coast. We have a qualified and experienced team offering sound advice, effective strategies and the best possible outcomes for you in a range of areas of law. This includes an Accredited Specialist in Family Law. Contact us today for a consultation.

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