When you’ve decided on a short list of two or three firms to approach, you’re ready to make your first call to a law firm.
Your aim should be to have an initial appointment with each of your short list, so you can assess which to go with.
Don’t try to find out all the information, advice and options in your first appointment. Instead, ask important questions of the lawyer, to see if they are someone you can work with.
What is that first phone call like, to the firm?
To set your expectations, don’t expect to get through to the lawyer!
If you’re calling a dentist or a GP or a psychologist, you don’t expect to speak to the person to make the appointment. Nor should you expect to speak to a solicitor straight away.
If you call the law firm, you’re likely to get a receptionist, they might put you through to an intake officer or the personal assistant for the lawyer. Or the receptionist might be able to do the intake for you.
So you’ll be making an appointment.
During the intake, the person on the phone at the firm might have a few questions to ask you to make sure that they’re making the appointment with the right solicitor.
Please don’t try to tell them your whole story, and all your problems! Please be guided by their questions – they know what is relevant at this stage.
Equally, if they ask you something specific, please don’t refuse to provide the information they’re asking. They need to determine that you are going to see the right solicitor, and they often have to do a conflict of interest check.
The availability of the solicitor you may have thought you would see may be an issue, but also, the intake person will know if there is someone who is equally as qualified, or who can at least get the files started earlier.
So I know it’s scary sometimes to call the law firm, particularly for the first time, but allow the receptionist or intake person to walk you through that process.
They will ask you at least for your phone number and a little bit of information about you, and who the other party might be so they can do a conflict search. They will also more than likely want an email from you so that they can send you some initial information. They may also give you a quote for the initial appointment, or other information about fees.
Some firms do initial interviews for free, but a lot of firms do not. So understand that even the initial appointment might have some small cost involved.
If you want a phone appointment to have advice, you still need to book that appointment. Again, don’t expect to call a firm out of the blue and be able to get straight onto a solicitor for advice.
If you want quick advice via a phone, you may be able to call a legal aid hotlines or the Women’s Legal Service in your State that can give you some initial advice or guidance.