What to Expect in The Intake Process
A lot of lawyers do not take the time that is necessary to really get to know the client. Clients do not always open up immediately because it takes establishing a trust relationship. Skilled lawyers at Polson and Polson will always try to use the initial consultation in the intake process to do just that and let their client know what to expect.
We get to know the client, who they are, and where they have been in life. We want to understand the facts of the case, what they understand the charge is, and their possible role in it. We want to help them understand and educate them about the system and then also specifically about what they are facing. Having a good, long first session helps build that trust and helps the attorney know what needs that client really has that the attorney can meet.
There are two questions in the beginning that come to mind for clients to ask. Individuals primarily want to know what is going to happen to them moving forward. People who are charged with crimes have a lot of anxiety. They want to know what is going to happen to them, to their loved ones, to their job, whether they are going to jail, and what all the consequences may be.
Just because someone has been charged with a crime does not mean that it is going to be a disaster or that it is going to be life as they understand it, so we feel it is important for them to realistically set some goals and to have some realistic expectations about outcomes. That is the first thing that is going to happen.
The next question is how much it will cost. It is hard for a lawyer to sometimes answer that until they have all of the data and all of the information. When lawyers are hired, what they are giving is really two things. They are giving their time and they are giving their client the benefit of experience.
There are some cases that we handle that are simple, where an individual has predictable outcomes and we have a generally good idea because we do have so much experience. We know how long it is going to take us, so we can set a fee.
Now, on the other hand, some cases we know we are going to have to go to trial on and we may not know initially whether we are going to have to hire expert witnesses or not—whether it is engineers to do mechanical evaluations of automobiles or whether it is accident reconstructionists, or whether it is a doctor or a nurse to look at medical issues.
Importance of Communication
We always answer the question of cost, whether we answer it the first day or not, we will always work on a contract basis. It is important for us to communicate this as early on as possible. Our clients are always going to know what it is going to cost them, and that way, they can make a judgment about whether they wish to hire us.