When potential clients call our firm, we begin with a brief phone discussion to determine whether it makes sense for them to come in for an initial consultation. In many cases, the potential client will speak first with our paralegal, who will ask for some basic information about the client's situation. In this phone call, we ask about the parties involved (to check for conflicts with other clients), and the critical issues for which legal advice or representation are sought. If the first call is with our paralegal, we may follow up with a call from one of the attorneys, depending on the circumstances. (An initial phone call does not create an ongoing attorney-client relationship; before representing a client, we need to have in place a written retainer agreement.)
We frequently represent employees in other states or countries, consistent with the ethical rules governing New York lawyers. For those clients, we can arrange for the consultation to be done by phone.
If a potential client decides to meet with one of our attorneys for a consultation, we will ask for some of the documents most relevant to the client's situation. We may also ask the potential client to draft a basic chronology of the critical events. These allow us to work most efficiently, and keep down the cost of the consultation.
In the initial consultation, we will:
Generally, our initial consultations require ninety minutes to two hours – sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the complexity of a client's situation.
If the lawyer-client relationship will be ongoing, then in appropriate circumstances, we will write a retainer letter for the client to review and sign. Our retainer letters explain all the terms of representation, including the legal services we will provide, legal fees, and our mutual obligations.
We generally charge for our initial consultations. We offer a variety of fee arrangements for ongoing advice, negotiation, arbitration, mediation, and litigation depending on the individual case, the time involved, and the legal issues the client is facing.