New Client Interviews — Understanding The Human Story
Another Huntsville personal injury law firm recently published its list of “expectations” for new client consultations. Their list is a good technical list. Potential clients need to know that good personal injury attorneys typically offer free and confidential consultations. And, potential clients need to know what to expect at these meetings. So, I’ll start by repeating the other firm’s list, but, in my own words. Then, I’ll tell you what I really consider the main purpose of our new client interviews. Here is my interpretation of what you can expect at a new client consultation:
- Who Are You? The other law firm lists this as the “collection of demographic / biographical” information. That’s true. But, it’s broader than that. If you are a potential new client, I want to get to know you better. You are more than simply your age and address. Your lawyer needs to know you better in order to advocate for you. I prefer to call this the “get to know you” part of the interview. At the end of this post, you will learn why it is important for me to know more about you.
- What Happened? The other firm lists this as “recounting the incident.” The essence is to find out what happened to you. Yes, I want you to “recount” the facts of the accident. But, I also want to know your thoughts and perceptions of the events. For example, I’ve personally experienced a wreck. The strongest memory for me is the smell of the airbag right after it exploded. Years later, I can still describe it in detail.
- How Were You Hurt? The other law firm identifies this as a “list of injuries, lost wages, and medical expenses.” Yes, you will list your injuries and damages in our meeting as well. But, I also want to understand how you were injured. How do you hurt? How are you impacted? How do you feel about your medical care? What are your biggest concerns about your injury? A list is a start. But, I need more than a list if I’m really going to advocate for you.
- What Is The Legal Process? The other firm lists this as “explanation of the process.” We also will take time to talk about the process. I love to answer questions. I want you to understand fully what will happen. But, this is also an ongoing discussion from the start of our representation to the completion of the case. We will continue to engage in conversation throughout the legal process. At each step of the way, we will discuss and prepare for what you should expect.
- Should I Expect To Meet With A Lawyer? Yes. I agree completely with the other firm. You should meet with the lawyer. I’m always shocked by law firms that send investigators or staff members to interview prospective clients. If you are unable to meet with the lawyer, call another firm. It is essential that the lawyer or lawyers working on a case know their client.
Again, it’s a good list of what you can expect at a personal injury consultation. But, I think the broader picture is more important. What is the broader picture? When I meet with potential clients, I cover the same basic areas. Most lawyers with experience cover those areas. Yet, more broadly, I want to know the story. Every client has a story. No two stories are ever the same.
At our office we spend considerable time just talking with potential clients. From the beginning, I’m thinking about your story, what is its theme and how to present it. We want to understand your story so we can present it later.