1. Initial Information Gathering and Decision Making

Soon after your initial meeting with your attorney, your attorney will attempt to gather as much information as possible and to make the major decisions on how the case will be handled. This stage of the case is most important and the cooperation of the client is indispensable. Lawyers are sometimes referred to as “brick masons”– we build the walls, but the client supplies the bricks. At the initial meeting with your attorney, you will be asked to fill out various information forms which enable them to check their records to make sure that they do not have a conflict of interest and to allow them to obtain the basic information (names, addresses, etc.) that will be used later on in the case to prepare letters, pleadings, agreements and the like. It is most important that the client be accurate with names, spellings, dates, and the like. Serving a pleading with the wrong date of marriage or a child’s birthday incorrectly stated only invites criticism. A diligent effort should be made to avoid that type of error. It is most critical that these documents be completed accurately as they will be relied upon by your attorney and the Court. Your attorney will also provide you with a list of documents that you will be required to gather. That list will be discussed with you at your initial meeting. In addition to meeting with the lawyer who will be representing you, paralegals may also work on your case. The paralegals may work with you throughout the case assisting in the gathering of information, helping to answer questions that you might have, and assisting your attorney in the preparation of your case. It is usually the goal within the first several weeks of your initial meeting with your attorney to have sufficient information and documentation in order to make major decisions as to how the case should be handled. This means, for instance, whether or not settlement overtures will be made, whether suit will be filed, what relief will be sought and overall what your attorney hopes to accomplish in your representation. These goals may change as you move forward in the case and your attorney becomes more educated in the facts and law that apply to the case.