During the initial consultation, both the prospective client and the lawyer are sizing each up.
We like to think of it as a first date, and whether or not there will be a second date (i.e. the individual being retained as a client) depends upon the chemistry of the initial visit and the interaction between the lawyer and the prospective client.
What to bring to the first consultation
Before arriving at one of our law offices, the prospective client is instructed to bring their entire Arizona Industrial Commission file—not just the copies that he or she has.
If possible (and often the hardest to obtain), we also ask for a copy of the insurance company’s file with all the medicals and pleadings—not just the medical that they provide and the blood tests.
Another item we ask prospective clients to bring is a copy of their medical provider’s file that they can get from their physician.
Our attorneys can learn a lot more about your case from these documents than from your recitation of the facts.
Generally speaking, an individual’s recitation of the facts is often less accurate, more lengthy and not as helpful as the actual documents.
What lawyers look for in prospective clients
One of the things we look for in the prospective client is whether or not they will be cooperative. If the prospective client fails to provide the information we request and just comes in to talk about their claim without documentation, we may determine that this isn’t a cooperative client.
Sometimes, the client mistakenly thinks that it’s our job to secure all of these records. However, this is like walking into a doctor’s office without prior test results and asking the physician to diagnose your condition. It just can’t happen. Assuming that all of the initial files we need are present, an experienced lawyer can then evaluate your case and determine if it has legal standing.
At this point, a lawyer will begin to evaluate and validate the strength of the defense. Perhaps, the doctor who the prospective client must rely upon is a poor testifier, which may determine whether it’s wise to take the case.
In a similar fashion, the lawyer will evaluate if the prospective client is a good historian and if the client has expectations that they will be able to meet. Sometimes, individuals believe that the workers’ compensation system will provide benefits that are well-beyond what is possible, and they become adamant that they are entitled to certain benefits.
During the initial interview, the prospective client might interrupt frequently, telling the lawyer what he or she believes the valuation of the case is and then setting unrealistic expectations about the law. This is not the happy start of a good relationship, and will more than likely result in the lawyer choosing to decline representation.
On the other hand, if the lawyer, upon evaluating all the documents that the client presents, determines that the insurance company is providing all the benefits in a timely fashion and the claim is in an appropriate posture, the lawyer may advise the client that there’s probably no need for an attorney.
How representation from our Arizona attorneys works
In other words, if you’re getting all the benefits to which you’re entitled, you don’t need to pay for the services of a lawyer. And we’ll tell you that upfront.
There are other cases, however, which we consider the middle ground. In these cases, there’s a denial of benefits, a denial of the initial claim, a cessation of benefits or a lessening of benefits, and we may determine that there’s a reasonable basis for success.
If we also assess during the initial consultation that the client has reasonable expectations, only then will we enter into a retention agreement and begin the important attorney/client relationship.
As we state in our law firm mission statement:
We treat every client with genuine respect, loyalty and understanding. We have a vision of justice and take ownership of your case from initial evaluation throughout litigation. We work as a team for the maximum benefit of every client. Our satisfied clients are our best references. We go above and beyond; in other words, we do what we promised to do!