Legal Question in Legal Ethics in California

is one of the main purposes of the initial consultation (whether it be free or for a fee) with the prospective attorney is to discuss the approximate amount of time the attorney will need to spend on the case and the approximate cost to the client for the attorney's services?

Asked on 1/01/15, 2:16 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Robert F. Cohen Law Office of Robert F. Cohen

Not necessarily. The most important thing at the initial consultation is for the attorney to hear about the events, determine preliminarily whether there is something with which the lawyer might assist, determine whether the case is viable, and evaluate the client, as well. The attorney also must determine whether the attorney has sufficient time and staff to handle the case if it is very complicated, and other factors. Sometimes the attorney might also give the potential client some general advice, such as to gather various documents, not to speak to anyone else, write a history, etc. It might be difficult on the first visit to pin down the time it should take to complete the task because not all information is ever presented at that time, the attorney has not had sufficient time to consider what has been told about the case, investigation has not been conducted, the identity of opposing counsel is unknown, and other variables. It would be unfair to expect the attorney to give the potential client anything but a very broad estimate of time based upon the attorney's past experience. The attorney might tell the potential client his or her fees at that time, or leave it until later when the attorney has determined that he or she is willing to handle the case.

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Answered on 1/01/15, 3:16 pm

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