To promote a good beginning to an important relationship, each of us must be prepared for our initial consultation. We expect you to read this book before we meet.

When you first contact our office, you will be instructed to read this book from our website, www.mcdowlaw.com. We ask that you then complete the Client Intake form from the “Getting Started” tab on the website, which is transmitted directly to our secure server. We will then contact you, typically within one business day but dependent upon our schedules and the urgency of your case, regarding the consultation fee and to schedule the initial consultation.

Be prepared and organized for the initial consultation. You should be prepared to discuss the major problem areas. Have a general understanding of what relief you seek and what you want us to accomplish. Many clients find it helpful to make an outline to bring to the initial consultation.

If you received any letter from a lawyer, any summons, or any legal documents, let us know in your initial contact and upload with your Client Intake form if possible. If you are not able to upload, call to find out about email, fax, or other options. The law imposes critical time deadlines and you cannot afford to default or fail to respond to deadlines. Recent pay stubs showing year-to-date earnings for you and your spouse are helpful, as are W-2 forms and tax returns for the prior year. Court rules require attachment of four recent pay stubs to your financial declaration.

Do not bring your children to our office. We love children but your children must not be subjected to your domestic problems in a lawyer's office. If they are old enough to understand, then they should not be present. If they are not old enough to understand, then they need a baby sitter–which we do not provide.

At the initial consultation, we want to talk only to you. We do not want to talk with your witnesses, your spouse, your children, or anyone else. We want your story and want you to talk freely. We may need to give candid advice that might embarrass you if others were present. Also, the attorney-client privilege, your assurance of confidentiality, may be legally lost if someone else is present during our consultation. I can talk with your witnesses and others later.

Many clients schedule the initial consultation because they know what they want and want to begin immediately. Other clients schedule the initial consultation because they are unsure of their rights or what they want, but want to insure any decision they make is an informed and intelligent decision. Any reason for the initial consultation satisfactory to you is satisfactory to us.

This book will answer some of your questions, but not all of your questions. It may raise other questions. You will have questions. Part of our job is to answer your questions. To avoid forgetting your questions, bring them in a note to yourself.

Our fee for the initial consultation is $300 which covers one hour. If we go beyond one hour, you will be charged the regular hourly rate. If you decide not to proceed then you will be billed only for the actual time. Be prepared to pay the initial retainer fee, usually $3,500, at the initial consultation. The fee for the initial consultation is included in the initial retainer fee.

My Favorite War Stories #1:
Did the Client Read the Book?



The client wanted an immediate appointment. I explained the need to read this book. The client balked. I suggested that the client get another lawyer if he were unwilling to read the book. He promised to read it.

The Client Intake forms were skimpily prepared. After a few questions, I knew he had not read a page.

Client asked if I could also represent his wife. He had not read so much as the Frequently Asked Questions in Chapter 2.

In the end, I learned representing an uncooperative client is not worth it, no matter how much the fee. He never understood the process and we were constantly at odds.

Now my policy is to refuse to represent anyone who is unwilling to read this book. This should be titled My Least Favorite War Story.