The Initial Consultation

The goal of this first meeting with the Outten & Golden attorney is for the lawyer to gain a clear understanding of the situation and for the client to learn about the applicable law, and to develop a plan to handle the problem or claim.

Generally, the O&G lawyer will budget 60 to 90 minutes for the initial consultation. If additional time is needed, a scheduling change should be discussed beforehand. Please arrive on time. If either the client or the lawyer cannot make the appointed time or expects to be delayed, the other person should be called as promptly as possible. For that reason, clients should always provide O&G with home and work telephone numbers, and mobile telephone numbers if relevant.

During this session, the O&G lawyer gathers, as efficiently as possible, all relevant information, ascertains the client's objectives, evaluates the legal and non-legal aspects of the situation, develops and analyzes possible strategies and tactics, and develops a plan of action. To the extent appropriate, O&G tries to empower the client to act on his or her own. Often this is the most effective, as well as cost efficient, approach.

Many times the initial consultation is just the beginning of a longer, more substantial attorney-client relationship. Sometimes, however, the initial consultation may be all that is necessary and is the end of the attorney-client relationship. Often, however, both parties recognize the value of the client staying in touch with the attorney, either as events unfold or for further advice and guidance. And, of course, many times the initial consultation is just the beginning of a longer, more substantial attorney-client relationship.

Client Documentation

It is often useful to both client and lawyer for the client to prepare a short chronology of material events and bring it to the initial consultation. This saves time and helps identify the significant events and people and organize supporting data and documentation.

Clients should also bring documents, to the extent available and relevant, such as: written agreements between the employer and the employee (e.g., employment, compensation, or non-compete agreements); offer letters or other letters relating to the terms or conditions of employment; any proposed severance agreement or release; published severance policies or procedures; any other relevant company manuals, policies, or procedures; all relevant benefit plans, summary plan descriptions, and statements; relevant performance appraisals, evaluations and notices; and all correspondence, memos, emails, or notes relevant to the issues involved. Finally, an organization chart, even an unofficial hand-drawn one, can help the lawyer more quickly learn who the relevant players are and where the client fits in the company. The lawyer may ask the client to send some of these documents to the office for review before the consultation session. (Note: Time spent reviewing such documents in preparation for the session is part of the consultation charge.)

Initial Consultation Fees

The client is expected to pay for the initial consultation (including the attorney's preparation time, if any) at the end of the consultation. Checks are preferred; credit cards are accepted. To the extent that the client and lawyer expect the attorney-client relationship to continue beyond the initial consultation, future fee arrangements and a retainer agreement should then be discussed.

In exceptional circumstances the consultation fee might be reduced, capped, or even waived. These special circumstances must be discussed before attending an initial consultation.