|Written by Chesley Payne|
|Wednesday, 09 May 2012|
|To most people an attorney is someone to contact when something bad happens in their lives.
Whether it is a divorce, being sued for money, or a family dispute over an estate, an attorney is seen as someone whose purpose is to “fix” those things that go wrong. However, an attorney can also help individuals and businesses try to anticipate and avoid pitfalls in the first place. For example, in starting a new business, an attorney can help answer questions that most people may not even consider. Some of these questions may be as simple as “What kind of corporate entity should I form?” or “Do I need to have workers’ compensation insurance?”
To help your attorney provide you the best information and knowledge, it is important to keep several guidelines in mind. The first is to make sure you bring along every document that may be relevant to your situation. Without the documents you will refer to in your meeting, your attorney can only make generalized guesses as to their content based upon your recollection. Having these documents allows your attorney to provide concrete, knowledgeable answers that will have value long after the meeting.
The second guideline is to make a timeline of either what has happened to you or what you plan to do in the future. Providing a timeline can allow your attorney to take into account any deadlines or statutes of limitation that may affect your ability to defend or pursue your legal rights.
The third guideline is to tell your attorney everything regarding your situation, even those facts that you may think are unimportant or not beneficial for your particular problem. Your attorney must have full information at his disposal to ensure that he is providing the proper legal analysis of your situation
The fourth guideline is to ask your attorney any questions you may have.
Questions can help your attorney discover what outcome you hope to achieve and determine whether that outcome is feasible.
Following these guidelines will make your first meeting with your attorney productive and could save you the expense of additional meetings. Remember, your attorney works for you and only you can provide the necessary tools needed to help represent you well.
Chesley Payne is an attorney at Massey, Stotser & Nichols, PC in Trussville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Alabama in 1999 and his J.D. from Alabama in 2002. He is a member of the Alabama State Bar.