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10 Things You Should Know Before Contacting a Lawyer

Most law firms receive a high volume of calls every day from people who are seeking legal advice and/or legal representation. These things will help you in making the initial contact with a law firm:

Have Your Documents Ready

Lawyers often need to see documents to understand your case. For example, if you are calling about an inheritance problem, the lawyer will probably need to see a copy of the decedent’s will or trust. Prepare your documents by scanning them so you have an electronic version that can easily be emailed to the law firm.

Research the Elements of Your Case

Each type of legal claim has specific elements that must be proven to win the case. For example, if you want to bring an undue influence claim, you must prove that the victim was vulnerable; that the bad actor had apparent authority over the victim; that the bad actor took specific actions or tactics to influence the victim; and that the bad actor’s influence caused an unfair result. All of these factors must be present in order to win your case. If you research the elements of the type of case you want to bring, it can help you communicate with the lawyer and convey the most important information.

Don’t Call if You Just Have a Question

Attorneys generally cannot give you legal advice without fully analyzing the facts of your situation, which takes time. Most attorneys are very busy and will not have time to respond to every question they receive.

You May Not Speak to a Lawyer Right Away

Lawyers are busy people. They attend court hearings, depositions, mediations, conferences and client meetings, and they draft all kinds of briefs, pleadings and agreements. Chances are, when you contact a law firm, you will initially speak with the legal support staff, such as a paralegal or legal assistant. The legal support staff is there to help you by taking your information and communicating that information to the attorneys.

Do Not Ask the Legal Support Staff for Advice

Legal advice is the giving of a formal opinion regarding the law in relation to a particular factual situation. Giving legal advice often involves analyzing a set of facts and advising a person to take a specific course of action based on the applicable law.

You must be a licensed attorney to give legal advice. Legal support staff can communicate information about your case to the attorney but cannot give you legal advice. Giving legal advice without a license is referred to as the unauthorized practice of law. Support staff can give you general information about the law firm but cannot make recommendations to you or tell you whether you have a good case.

Don’t Provide Too Much Information

A lawyer’s job is to analyze whether you have legal claims and what your potential courses of legal action might be. Often times when you contact a law firm, you are very emotional, and you want to share every detail of the situation with the attorney because you want the attorney to understand everything you have been though. If you provide too much information right away, the attorney may not be able to properly analyze your legal claim.

Answer the Lawyer’s Specific Questions

When you contact a lawyer, they are going to ask you very specific questions to determine what type of elements are present in your case. If a lawyer (or the lawyer’s support staff) asks you a specific question, the lawyer needs that information in order to determine whether you have a viable case. Try to stick to answering those specific questions. If the lawyer determines they can represent you, you will have the opportunity to go into further detail.

The Lawyer May Not Be Able to Take Your Case

Every law firm is different. Some law firms are busier than others. A good attorney will limit the amount of cases they take so that the law firm can give each case the time and attention it deserves. Sometimes, when you contact a law firm, you will provide information about your case, only to find out that the attorneys are unable to take your case based on their current caseload. In most instances, the law firm can give you referrals to other law firms that practice the same type of law. If you believe you have a valid claim, you should continue to seek representation.

Not All Lawyers are Created Equal

It is best to hire an attorney who specializes in the specific field of law you need help in. The more experience a lawyer has, the more skilled he or she becomes. If you speak with a lawyer but have a feeling that he or she may not fully understand the field of law, it is best to keep looking until you find a lawyer you trust.

Lawyers Are Here to Help

Most attorneys go into the legal profession because they genuinely want to help people. Being involved in a lawsuit is almost guaranteed to be a stressful experience. A good lawyer will be there to guide you and help you achieve the best result possible.