Starting a Family Law Case
What is the procedure for onboarding family law clients?
Initial Consultation The attorney should schedule an initial consultation with the client to gather information about their case and determine if the attorney is the right fit for the client. Some attorneys offer a quick phone call to kind of "triage" their cases. If you're called into the attorney's office asap, please take this seriously. If you are asked to wait a few days before meeting with the attorney, this is ideal to give you some space to get your paperwork and emotions in order. It also gives you plenty of time to prioritize.
Contract + Retainer Once the attorney has agreed to take on the case, they should provide the client with a contract outlining the terms of their representation and a retainer agreement outlining the costs associated with the case. This is just as funny for the attorney as it is for you- you're negotiating with someone you're hiring to negotiate for you. The client must trust that the attorney is a good business person and is pricing their contract based on their cost of doing business. The client must trust that the attorney still wants to practice law in the next few years.
Information Gathering The attorney should gather all relevant information from the client, including financial documents, legal documents, and any other information that is relevant to the case. This may be as simple as completing the attorney's paper intake packet. It may be a letter from the attorney to the client requesting documents. It may even be that the other side has already issued discovery and the client can respond to the discovery. Finally, it's very important to provide truthful and accurate information when completing the Family Law Affidavit prior to going to court.
Case Assessment The attorney should conduct a thorough assessment of the client's case, including a review of the relevant laws and case law, and develop a strategy for moving forward.
Communication Plan The attorney should establish clear communication with the client, outlining how and when they will be updated on the progress of their case, and how to reach the attorney if they have any questions or concerns. Ask clear questions about communication, such as "During what hours can I call your office?" "During what hours can I call your cell phone?" "Are there any special circumstances I should call out of these times?" "Can I email you?" "Can I text you?" Communication is the most important part of the attorney-client relationship and must be had during representation.
Ongoing Representation The attorney should continue to provide representation for the client throughout the case, including appearing in court, negotiating with the opposing party, and preparing legal documents.
Case Closure Once the case is resolved, the attorney should close the file and provide a final invoice to the client.