When I first receive a case, I’m going to have an in-depth conversation with the client and there are two pieces to that. Everyone, when you talk to them in the initial consultation or an initial interview, has a story to tell. Something has happened to them. They want to, in part, get off their chest what’s occurred and they’re really looking for someone to give them some advice and some guidance to tell them what they ought to do next.
So, a big part of what I do in my initial process is listen. I listen to what has happened to them, I listen to what their biggest concerns are, and what are they most worried about. Are they most worried about going to jail or is it losing a driver’s license or is it a security clearance? From experience I’ve learned there are so many important questions to be asked as well.
I take all the time I need to ask individuals about what is important. I ask them to be prepared with the documents that they receive if they possibly can, I like to go over those in detail. I want to know what the charges are, I want to let individuals know what they mean. I want to ask them, how did these charges come about, what are the facts of this case, from the very beginning to the very end, who are the personalities involved, who are the police officers and witnesses just to name a few examples.
It’s really a process of listening, of finding out not just what happened and thinking about how I’m going to help, but finding out what’s most important to them.
People often have range of unique concerns and it’s important as a lawyer to know that in an initial process. As a lawyer you have to learn everything you can when you talk to someone initially, since they will have a better memory of what has occurred when you talk to them for the first time, events have happened recently, than they will at a future point. So, it’s really important to learn for myself, and also to really jog their memory and get them focused on the most important facts.
My next step is always to look at the law. Even if it’s something I’ve seen a thousand times, there’s just no substitute for laying my eyes on it again with the facts of that particular case in mind, as well as checking to see if there are any new developments which will affect the case.
In this initial process, I’m always thinking about what the goal of this client is. I’m choosing the best tactics to achieve them and I continue to hone and refine those all the way through the process as more information becomes available or if it needs change.