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“Meeting With A Lawyer – What to Expect (And What We Dislike)”

by Jun 21, 2018


When you are in need of legal assistance, whether it be to have some estate planning documents drafted, to defend (or start) a lawsuit, to file for divorce,  to deal with a real estate transaction, or some other legal issue, you will, at some point, have to schedule  a meeting with an attorney.  This article briefly discusses what you should expect and what attorneys dislike.

First, attorneys are individuals, just like you, and you should not be intimidated.  They are ordinary people who just happen to practice law.  If you have to cancel or reschedule the meeting, PLEASE call, text, or e-mail the attorney to let them know.   Things come up or people change their mind.  That is fine.   The attorney’s time (and yours) is valuable; so, if you have to cancel or reschedule just let him/her know.  This is common courtesy, plain and simple.

Second, be prepared.  If you are planning on filing for bankruptcy, the attorney will ask you ahead of time to do a little homework and put together a list of your creditors, a list of your assets, and to sketch out a budget Do it.  Don’t say “I didn’t have time”, or “I am not sure who I owe”, or “I don’t own anything”. People have told me that.  My response to those types of comments is “if you don’t know who you owe money to, I certainly don’t. However, I usually get bills in the mail so you might want to check your mailbox and collect them or otherwise pull a credit report.”  If you claim you don’t own any assets I would likely ask you “where do you live, whose clothes are you wearing, or how did you get here – walk?”

Third, telling the attorney (to whom you have come for legal advice) what the law is in a particular area is generally not a good idea.   My initial response would be to ask why, then, are you seeking legal advice.  There is certainly nothing wrong with stating what you believe the law to be. However, be open minded as you have come to the attorney for legal advice so you might want to listen to what he/she has to say.

Fourth, seeing the attorney after you have signed the contract and then wanting to understand what you signed or wanting to try to get out of it. It is better to have seen the attorney before you inked the document.  Often, contracts are time sensitive and it is very difficult or impossible to get out of something after the deed is done.

Fifth, seeing the attorney after a legal problem has been “festering” for a while, and ignoring it.  I have had several occasions where people come in to see me at the last minute to help them deal  with  a pending  lawsuit where they have to go to court  in a couple of days,  or dealing with a pending  mortgage foreclosure, where the sale is in two days.  As to the lawsuit, they knew about the proceedings several weeks ago and typically did nothing.  As to the foreclosure, because of the required Notice as to a pending mortgage foreclosure, the homeowner knows at least a month in advance of the pending foreclosure (sheriff’s) sale, yet plays ostrich, and sticks their head in the sand hoping it will go away.  Note – it does not go away!   If you do not come to see me before the foreclosure sale occurs, there is very little I can do.  The bottom line here is please do not wait until the last minute. Deal with the problem head on and see an attorney right away as it may give you and your lawyer more options to resolve the issue.

Sixth, follow up.  If you say you are going to do something – do it.  If you are going to fund your trust then take the steps the lawyer has recommended to place property in the name of your trust.  Otherwise, you will have spent your well earned money setting up a trust that is essentially an empty shell that has no assets.  Thus, your attempt to avoid probate will have been for naught.

Seventh, don’t have unrealistic expectations.  If you want to get your drivers license back after a drunk driving conviction and were recently arrested after an altercation that occurred at a local bar, don’t expect a miracle.  You have to show an administrative hearing officer that you have been alcohol free for at least the past 6 months before they would even consider granting you some type of restricted driving privileges. Most hearing officers will not believe you were drinking a soft-drink at the bar.  To apply for restoration of your driving privileges, under that scenario, is not only unrealistic but (as I have told several clients) just not going to happen. It would be a waste of my time and your money.

Finally, ask for some type of written fee agreement, so that you and the attorney are on the same page, so to speak, on how you will be charged for the fees to be incurred and when payment is expected.  If you have questions about such arrangement, ask before you sign anything (see item 4 above).

Attorneys are here to assist you in connection with your legal needs.  The earlier you act and the greater you can help them out and provide relevant information, the better things will go for you and the less costly it will be. Should you be in need of legal assistance, please contact the professionals at Damon, Ver Merri, Boyko and Witte, PLC. today at (616) 975-9951. We are here to help you.   – Larry A. Ver Merris  /  June 21, 2018





While this posting originates from a law office, none of the contents should, in any way, be considered legal advice. If you have not signed a retention letter describing the legal services to be provided and the amount to be paid for such services, you are not a client of this firm.

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