If you are seeking a divorce or to establish initial custody and parenting time, you generally do not have to bring anything to your first meeting, unless you were served with papers. If you were served with papers, bring those papers with you. At the conclusion of your initial meeting, your lawyer may give you a list of documents to locate and bring back. This may include common papers, like tax returns, recent pay stubs and statements from retirement plans.
If you are seeking to modify your divorce or your initial custody or parenting time determinations, you will need to bring your original judgment and any subsequent orders or judgments from the court with you to your first meeting. This way, your lawyer can better understand the legal posture of the case. The same goes if you have a problem with DHS or the ICW program of a Tribal Court. A review of prior court determinations will greatly assist your lawyer in giving you sound legal advice.
At your first meeting, you can expect to talk about your situation in some depth. Generally, initial meetings are scheduled for one hour. Like the doctor who needs the facts in order to make their diagnosis, the lawyer needs to hear the facts before they can give their advice. It can help if you organize your thoughts in an outline of “talking points” before your first meeting. After the lawyer renders some initial advice, the lawyer should discuss fees, costs and whether an initial retainer will be required. Then, the lawyer and client should part with an “action plan” for the future.
After the first meeting, if the client wishes to hire the lawyer and the lawyer wishes to accept the client’s case, then arrangements are made to formalize the attorney-client relationship. The lawyer opens a file. A brief letter is sent to the client, with a proposed fee agreement. When the fee agreement is signed and returned, and the retainer, if applicable, is paid, then, as Abraham Lincoln said, “The client knows he has a lawyer, and the lawyer knows he has a client.” Advocacy can then begin, with the client secure in knowing that a lawyer is on the case.
Article Written By: Peter C. Diamond, Warren Allen LLP
DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein is based on Oregon law and is subject to change. It should be used for general purposes only and should not be construed as specific legal advice by Warren Allen, LLP or its attorneys. Neither this website nor use of its information creates an attorney – client relationship. If you have specific legal questions, consult with your own attorney or call us for an appointment.