Tag Archives: assessment

Don’t Bring Your Child to the Divorce Lawyer Meeting.

Things happen. I get that.  But, generally speaking you should not bring your child to your first meeting with the divorce attorney.

The first meeting with the divorce attorney is tough, emotional and can be embarrassing.  At least, you could be discussing potentially embarrassing and confidential matters.  This is no place for small children.  They will be bored, hungry, thirsty, have to use the bathroom, and will break things in the office.  They will eat all of the candy in the dish, touch all the nick-knacks, and if their sibling is there a fight will ensue.  They will be loud, hot, cold, sleepy, wired, angry and goodness only knows what they will overhear and repeat at the most inopportune time.

Attorneys probably take for granted that the client knows not to bring their children to the meeting.   Don’t.  I try to make sure the client has thought about not bringing the children to the meeting.  It is genuinely rare that there is no other option.  So, if you are a client the only time to take the children is when the attorney requests it.  Otherwise, do NOT take your children to the meeting.  If there is no other choice, reschedule.  If you cannot reschedule, let the attorney know that you must bring your children and bring another adult to watch the children.

Matthew Thompson is a Family Law attorney and implores you to please NOT bring your children to the meeting with the lawyer.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.

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Red Flag Representation

This blog topic was requested by a colleague.  This posting is geared toward attorneys on spotting warning signs and/or red flags  of potential difficult clients.  This can also apply to a variety of  business owners to be on the lookout for potential difficult customers.

Difficult clients and difficult cases come with the territory of being a lawyer.  The following are some red flags to be aware of, however, these are not necessarily cases or clients to avoid.  I have read many other attorney and business guru’s opinions on avoiding certain types of clients/customers.  They are time stealers, energy wasters and headaches in the making.  In my practice, however, “clients to avoid” have been some of the more gratifying cases for a variety of reasons.  Nonetheless, it is always best to know what you are getting into.

  • Calling/Hiring at the Last Minute.  We have all had the call.  “I need an attorney for tomorrow!”  There’s a trial setting that has been ignored and the client wants you to work miracles.  When the trial is tomorrow – red flag.
  • Multiple Past Attorneys.  This client has been through 2 or 3 or more attorneys.  This is a huge red flag.  The former attorneys either “did not know what he was doing” or “was on the take” or both.  (Sometimes there is a former attorney “no longer willing to do anything” because the potential client owes them a lot of money.)
  • 5 Boxes on the First Visit.  It takes 3 trips to get everything upstairs from car.  Every possible shred of paper has been kept, not necessarily in an organized manner, but…”I know it’s in there somewhere.”
  • No Call/No Show for an Appointment.  After accommodating someone’s work schedule, staying late to meet them and they do not show, did not call, and did not answer when you tried to call them, it could be a sign of the future.
  • When it’s Just Too Hard.  You know the client.  Having to convince them you are honest and on the up and up, having to justify every minute spent speaking to them and/or working on their case.  I charge a fee for my initial assessments with clients. I do this because I provide valuable information, answer questions, provide them with a specific plan of action and it creates a “future conflict” upon the meeting taking place.  When I have to go to great lengths to justify a fee because so and so will see them for free for a “consultation,” I tell them to go see so and so.
  • When There is Animosity at the Outset.  Along the lines of being Just Too Hard, is when you just don’t click.  Sometimes we have to give hard advice.  Sometimes we tell people what they do not want to hear.  Sometimes they attack the messenger.
  • Interviewing Multiple Attorneys.  This one is seemingly innocuous.  It differs from the multiple past attorneys above because the potential client never actually hired the interviewees.  This is the classic “Conflict the Attorney Out,” scheme.  People do it.  Be aware.
  • Super Emotional.  Family law is always difficult and is always emotional.  However, sometimes the hurt and emotional pain of a case are too much for the client to deal with AND litigation and all of the rigors that requires at the same time.  Recognize this to better serve your clients.
  • No Pay or Slow Pay.  The check is in the mail, can you hold the check until ___?, or the check bounced.  As Professor Jeffrey Jackson* at Mississippi College School of Law is known to say, “I can worry about your case or the money you owe me, but not both.”  It is fair to ask the potential client about their income, available resources and intentions to pay the necessary fees. *(As an aside,  Professor Jackson was named to National Jurist’s 23 Law Professors to Take Before you Die.)

These are just a few red flags that a potential client could be difficult, but in my opinion any one of these can occur due to the circumstances of a particular situation and should not disqualify representation.  If all signs are present in your next new client consultation, tell them to go hire so and so.

Matthew is a family law attorney and is not scared to take on a red flag representation, well, except the ones that don’t pay.  

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer    Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@bowtielawyer.ms.

How to Hire an Attorney.

One of the most daunting tasks in a legal situation  is hiring an attorney.  Its is not something you ever look forward to doing, regardless of the reason for why you need an attorney.  But, there are several things you should do before contacting an attorney and several things you should do afterwards.

HOW TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY

Pre-Attorney check:

  • Ask your Family.     It is likely someone in  your family, or a close friend, has been through the need for an attorney and used one.  This will help you determine who to use and just as importantly who NOT to use.
  • Ask your Preacher.    Your preacher, pastor, rabbi, etc… may well know who can help you.  Sometimes they are reluctant to get involved as it may pit one parishioner vs. another, however, in my experience they try to steer either one or both to someone equipped to help that particular person.
  • Ask Trusted Professionals.    Your CPA, Banker, Counselor.  They know who has a good reputation in the community and in some instances may have worked with the attorney.
  • Review the Web.  Do they have a web presence? Review their site for content? Review for practice ares; Jack of all trades or limiting their practice?

Interview the Attorney:

  • The Initial Assessment (or consultation, as some attorneys call it) is as much you gathering information on the attorney as the attorney is getting information on, about and from you.
  • Ask about Experience; trial experience, experience in the area of law you seek, experience with the potential judges and counsel-opposite(s).
  • Explain.  See if they can explain the process in English.  I know some big words, but I also know when to use them.
  • Ask about Fees.  Know what a “Retainer” is. (Unearned money which the attorney earns as they work on your case. Typically you are billed for every phone call, email, text, letter, appointment, interview and court appearance).
  • I charge differently and use almost exclusively “Flat Fees.” I tell you on the front end what it will take.  Also, a “Retainer” is not necessarily what your case will cost.  The attorney should not be sheepish about admitting this.
  • Trust your gut.  Instinct matters.  If you don’t click, don’t have that trust – move on.  There are a lot of attorneys out there.
  • Be smart about it too.  If the attorney can explain it, has the experience and is in your budget, don’t delay taking action, sometimes you have to make the best decision, on the best information available at the time.  (Maybe your gut is wrong….)
  • Be Honest with them.  Every dirty detail.

After the Hire:

  • Be clear on Expectations.
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. (Phone, text, email, as needed)
  • Follow their advice.  That is why you hired them.
  • Give feedback.

This is not a perfect list, but it is some food for thought when hiring an attorney.

Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that gets hired more often than not.  If you think you need an attorney you probably do.  Trust the Bow Tie.

Follow the blog: BowTieLawyer    Visit the website: Thompson Law Firm

You may also contact Matthew with your family law case, question or concern at (601) 850-8000 or Matthew@wmtlawfirm.com.