It can be a big waste of time for both you and the lawyer if you're not prepared for your first meeting. Being unprepared may also end up costing you money, because it will take longer for the lawyer you hire to get up to speed on your legal matter.
- The lawyer will want to know who you are and how you can be contacted. The lawyer may also ask for a personal and business background. So you'll need to write down anything that you consider to be relevant background information and have it available for the lawyer. Also bring along any documents that you have.
- Sometimes, a lawyer may also try to speed the information-gathering process by sending you a questionnaire to fill out in advance. If this happens, be sure to fill out the questionnaire and send it in to the lawyer's office before the meeting. Also send along copies of any available documents that may be requested in the questionnaire.
- Before you get too far into a meeting or conversation, the lawyer is going to want to know about possible conflicts of interest. If you have a litigation matter, you should bring a list of other employees who may be witnesses, defendants or interested parties. If the lawyer or the lawyer's firm represents anyone on the other side of the fence, he or she will have a conflict and will usually not be able to represent you.
- Written documentation is always important. Even if a lawyer doesn't ask for documentation beforehand, it's still a good idea to bring a copy of all documents relevant to your situation to the meeting. Spend some time thinking about what you may have on hand. Try to organize the documents in a logical manner before you meet with the lawyer.
- It is absolutely essential that you bring the originals and a copy of any and all papers that directly relate to your legal issue.
- If you are trying to secure intellectual property rights on a design, a work of art, a mark or whatever, you should bring a reproduction or a rendition to your meeting with the lawyer.
- Bring the originals and a copy of all correspondence relating to the matter. Dates can be critical. One date, in particular, that can be very important is when you may have first used a business logo, a mark or a product that you are trying to protect. Get a calendar and mark down dates of when things happened and when you received any notices or other documents. Bring the calendar to your meeting to use as a reference.
- Your lawyer will want to know who you talked with, including the names of any representatives at government agencies. You should have names, addresses, and telephone numbers available.
- Prepare a list of questions to take with you to your first meeting. In theory, no question is too silly to ask. Keep in mind, though, that you don't want to scare a lawyer out of representing you. Questions you might ask a lawyer would include:
Don't be afraid to subtly quiz prospective lawyers to see if they really know what they are talking about. Maybe you could even ask them for definitions of a few IT terms to see if they can tell you what they mean.
- What would the lawyer like to see in order to evaluate representing your interests?
- What might your other options be?
- How many similar matters has he or she handled?
- What percent of his or her practice is in the area of expertise that you need?
- What problems does the lawyer foresee with your situation?
- How would the lawyer go about handling your situation? What is the process?
- How long will it take to bring the matter to a conclusion?
- How would the lawyer charge for his or her services?
- Would the lawyer handle the matter personally or would it be passed on to some other lawyer in the firm? If other lawyers or staff may do some of the work, could you meet them?