Coming to meet your Solicitor for the first time might feel like a nerve wracking prospect – “what will they be like?”, “will they be easy to talk to?”, “what questions will they ask me?”.
The first meeting is a chance for information to be shared, expectations to be set and advice to be given. It is natural to feel anxious, particularly as the reason you are coming to see us is very likely to be related to one of the biggest events of your life, be that a divorce, an issue over your children, an abusive relationship or social services becoming involved in your life. Rest assured we are here to help and to support and guide you through the legal maze. We are friendly, down to earth and non-judgemental.
So what is likely to happen?
Once introductions are out of the way (and you are sat with a tea or coffee) we will start by discussing funding for your case. You may have been assessed as eligible for public funding in which case we will explain a bit about the certificate you have been granted. If you are paying privately we will explain a more about our hourly rate, how we bill you, an estimate of costs of the case and confirm any agreement for costs of the first meeting. Usually you will be asked to make a payment in advance of the appointment stating to cover the costs of the initial meeting and thereafter to pay on account for future costs. We will also ask for proof of identity such as a passport or driving licence.
We will then go through with you the background to you coming to see us and will take down lots of information. Some of this will be practical information such as dates of birth, addresses etc. Other information will be more detailed and will involve you giving us an account of what has happened and what you hope to achieve.
We will usually then give you some legal advice during the meeting and set out the procedures that are involved and likely timescales. This will include what we need you to do next and what we will do next for you.
How can I best prepare?
Come armed with information. Bring with you copies of any Court Orders, and a note of relevant dates. It’s a bit like a trip to the Doctor, the best way to help us to help you, is to be ready to share with us a history of events leading up to needing our advice and let us know what you want to achieve. We will then be in the best position, armed with your information, to tell you what is and what isn’t possible and what the possible options are for you to consider. Some people find that writing down a list of background points they want to remember and a list of questions that they want answers to helps them to focus on what the key issues are. Writing out a short chronology of events is also really helpful and can help you to remember what happened and when.
What if I remember something as soon as I have left?
Don’t worry! If you get home and realise there was something you had forgotten to mention. It is very common for this to happen. Just give us a call or drop us an email. We will provide you with a follow up letter confirming your instructions which is a good chance to remind yourself of what was discussed and the next steps in your case.
Lucy Lightowler, Consultant Solicitor