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What should I expect when I meet with a Phoenix personal injury lawyer for the first time?

This is a question I hear often, and not one easily answered. This is because every client is different and every attorney is different. In the field of personal injury law, there are solo practitioners, small firms, large firms, advertising firms, etc.

I’ve known some attorneys in large advertising firms that rarely, and never, actually meet their clients. Some firms have paralegals or other support staff meet with and sign up new clients. Some of these staff members even review the Fee Agreement with the new client, while others bring in the handling attorney to simply explain the Fee Agreement and close the deal, much like the supervisor at the car dealership. In these later situations, the attorney might be present for 15 minutes or less.

Some firms advertise home intakes, where they come to you. But those may routinely involve a paralegal or other support staff member coming out without an attorney. Some firms have the attorney call the new client to connect after the support staff returns to the office with the paperwork.

In other firms, geography is such that the attorney may spend extensive time on the phone with a prospective new client, with a face-to-face meeting planned for some time down the line.

Myself, I view that initial client meeting as a very important component to establishing a positive working relationship. I try to allow as much time as necessary. First and foremost, I want the client to be comfortable with their choice of attorney or law firm. I’ll tell them a little about me as I want them to have confidence in me. I try to learn something about them unrelated to their case so they come to believe they are more than an eventual fee to me. I do a lot of listening, because I want them to believe that I understand their situation and can and will be their advocate. I talk with my prospective clients, as opposed to talking to them or at them (trust me, I’ve seen many attorneys do the later).

I’ll tell them a little about me as I want them to have confidence in me. I try to learn something about them unrelated to their case so they come to believe they are more than an eventual fee to me. I do a lot of listening, because I want them to believe that I understand their situation and can and will be their advocate. I talk with my prospective clients, as opposed to talking to them or at them (trust me, I’ve seen many attorneys do the later).

I explain the entire process, including all of the steps and estimated time involved in moving their case to a hopeful resolution. We discuss what help they might need to get through the process, such as helping getting the necessary medical care, and/or assistance in dealing with the vehicle’s repair.

I try to set reasonable expectations at the outset. I don’t make any promises I can’t keep and if they’re attorney shopping, I warn them to be wary of any personal injury attorney in Arizona that will make them such promises at their initial meeting.

I encourage them to contact me with any questions. I encourage using email whenever possible, explaining that my email comes to my cell phone so utilizing email is a great way to ensure prompt responses, often even after working hours or over weekends.

I don’t make any promises I can’t keep and if they’re attorney shopping, I warn them to be wary of any personal injury attorney in Arizona that will make them such promises at their initial meeting. I encourage them to contact me with any questions.

I encourage using email whenever possible, explaining that my email comes to my cell phone so utilizing email is a great way to ensure prompt responses, often even after working hours or over weekends.

Are there times that I am unavailable to meet with a prospective client before they retain me? Of course. Sometimes they live far away or our schedules conflict. In those circumstances, I might spend extensive time talking to them on the phone, or communicating via email, before I send initial paperwork to them for their execution.

However, even in those circumstances, I will still try to set up a future face-to-face meeting if at all possible. Sometimes, if my perspective client has compatible computer equipment, we might conduct our initial face-to-face (and/or subsequent meetings as well) via SKYPE.

The bottom line is that your initial meeting with your attorney should meet your needs. There are plenty of personal injury attorneys in Phoenix out there. If you don’t get a good feeling speaking with a given attorney, try another one.