Every year, a quarter of Americans say they experience an issue where they could use legal help. If this is your year, it’s time to make an appointment with an attorney. If you’re a Texas Legal member, your membership includes several free attorney consultations every year, so there’s no reason not to. It’s easy to find the right attorney with our online attorney finder, but before your appointment, learn how to get the most out of your time with your lawyer.
Find the Right Attorney
Not all lawyers are created equal. If you need a will, you don’t want someone who specializes in criminal law. And if you are facing a criminal matter, you don’t want someone who only does estate planning! Figure out what area of law you need help with or what issue you are facing and look for the right kind of lawyer. Luckily, Texas Legal’s attorney finder allows you to search by specialty and legal issue so you can find someone who can help you. Once you find an attorney in that area, ask on the phone if they still handle that kind of case, as lawyers sometimes change specialties or legal areas.
Interview a few attorneys before you choose one. It’s important to feel like your attorney understands your case and that you trust them to handle things. Legal matters can be extremely personal and involve a lot of stress – choose someone you feel comfortable with to make things easier.
Give Yourself Time
It’s tempting to squeeze an appointment in on your lunch break, but if you can, set aside a little more time to meet with your attorney so you won’t be rushed. Legal issues are complex, and it takes time to go over documents, ask questions and make sure you understand what’s happening. Try to find a time where you can focus on your legal matter and not be constantly watching the clock.
Prepare Your Documents
Most legal matters involve documents, from birth and marriage certificates to subpoenas and deeds. Make copies of all the documents you are taking to your attorney. Keep the originals for your files. Discuss with the attorney if the originals are required and if you will get them back.
Here’s a list of some of the kinds of documents that may be important to your attorney:
- Family Matters (marriage license, birth certificates, driver’s license)
- Legal Notices (tickets, court orders, summons)
- Consumer Protection (agreements, contracts, warranties)
- Real Estate Matters (deeds, account numbers, mortgage documents)
- Correspondence (letters you received and notes gathered regarding legal matter)
- Estate Planning (existing Will, Trust documents, Power of Attorney, account numbers)
Think Through Your Expectations
Before you meet with the attorney, you might not know what can be done about your legal matter, and that’s okay. But take some time to sit down and think through your expectations for your case. Do you need legal information and advice, or do you need someone to represent you? What is the outcome you hope to achieve? How quickly do you expect to be able to achieve this outcome? Bring this list to your meeting so you can share your expectations with your attorney, and they can tell you what they think they can achieve.
Establish a Communication System
You will need to remain informed about any updates, changes or situations that pertain to your case. It’s important that you have good communication with your attorney. Think about how it would be best for you to communicate (email, telephone, in-person, letter) and agree on a method with your attorney, as well as how frequently you’ll get an update. Obtain the name and contact information of an assistant who can provide you updates when your attorney is not available.
Talk About Your Legal Plan
If you’re a Texas Legal member and you choose a network attorney, make sure you bring your membership card to your meeting to your attorney can call to verify your benefits. Talk with your attorney about what your plans covers and how long they expect your legal work will take. While our plans cover the most common legal issues and many are covered in full, there are some exceptions. You’ll want to have an idea if there will be any charges or fees you might have to pay out of pocket.
The process of finding and meeting with an attorney to discuss a legal issue can seem daunting, but ultimately, having an expert lawyer on your side can make tackling your legal problem easier, and once it’s behind you, you can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that Texas Legal is always by your side!