Who doesn’t like free? Free lunch, free ride, free will, free thought, and of course the free world, which Neil Young is known to like to rock in.
But what about the free legal consultation? Now that’s just next level.
Kidding aside, the initial legal consultation is an important part of any experience that may have legal ramifications, needs to be adjudicated in a court of law, or could require the professional legal review of contracts, documents, or evidence. It is the start of the next phase of your journey after you’ve been in a personal injury accident or suffered a workplace injury. And by all rights, it should be free.
It’s about time
So how do you know it’s time to consult with an attorney? It’s all about the little warning signs, aka, “pink flags.” Perhaps your claims manager isn’t being truthful. Your doctor doesn’t seem to be listening. An independent medical examination is requested before you’ve even done intake with a vocational counselor. Your employer denies your claim or benefits aren’t paid immediately. Or, in a personal injury case, the insurance company is offering a laughable settlement. Your life is consumed by the case and you just want your life to return to normal.
First date = first consultation
Think of the free legal consultation as a first date. You’re meeting your prospective partner (attorney) for the first time, and you both have a chance to get to know each other a little better. You’ll get a chance to tell this certain someone why you wanted to go on the date in the first place, and why the experience you’ve had has led you to a meeting.
From the lawyer’s perspective, this first meeting is also hugely significant in getting a sense of you, your circumstances, your concerns, your state of mind, and—most importantly—your possible case.
In this initial consultation, this first date, both parties will be asking themselves: do I want to see this person again? Do we have the makings of a relationship here?
Tell us your story
Everyone has a story to tell. Most of them are interesting and compelling, but interesting and compelling does not always mean legally actionable. The question here is: does your story demand legal attention, and recourse?
The story is yet another important component of this initial, free consultation. Because the narrative matters. Especially in a situation where there is a strong likelihood that you may need to go to court, the narrative—and the coherency, consistency, and details of that narrative—will become the foundation of your case.
So you can understand why telling your story will inform your potential legal representation of the merits of the case, and the solid ground you have to stand on. Your attorney will review your circumstance with you and provide you with a case evaluation, which includes a recommendation to move forward with legal action or take other next steps.
So, you’ve agreed to a first date. Now what? Do you need to prepare paperwork? Do you need to come armed with any information? What is expected of you?
What to expect when you’re explaining
Aside from an explanation of your particular circumstances and the telling of your story, the initial consultation also starts to paint the big picture, draw in the background, and shade in any gray areas. All of these factors inform your lawyer on the particulars of your case, its strengths, its weaknesses, and its legal precedence.
And though it might seem counterintuitive—especially on a first date—it really is a good strategy on your part to be as candid as possible. Tell the story as best as you can recall it, and don’t pull any punches. After all, the consultation is totally confidential, and you can walk away from it as easily as you can decide to proceed. So, it makes sense to lay all your cards on the table, tell it like it is, and let legal counsel take the reins from there. After all, they do this for a living.
What does being candid in your consultation really mean? Aside from being honest, it also means being genuine about your mind frame during the time of the incident, and during the aftermath. It means sharing the facts you know about all parties involved, whether they be family members, co-workers, or complete strangers.
And it means bringing in as much information—including dates, receipts, police reports, photos, videos, documents—as you feel comfortable in sharing. This sharing will only help your lawyer to understand the entirety of the circumstances you experienced, and therefore be able to formulate a winning strategy in adjudication.
Simply put, the free legal consultation is informal, confidential, and will probably take 15 or 20 minutes. The environment should never be hostile or adversarial, and if it is, you’ve gone to the wrong law firm. It really is an opportunity for you and your potential lawyer to decide on the best path forward. Once both parties get a better view of the entirety of the circumstances, you can choose a course of action that makes sense on both sides.
And remember, wherever you meet up for that first consultation, don’t pick up the tab.
Schedule a free legal consultation today
Contact our friendly and approachable worker’s comp and personal injury attorneys in Spokane for a free and confidential consultation. The legal system is intimidating and confusing. Your only job should be focusing on your recovery. Chris and Rich will handle the rest.