Eight Things Your Lawyer Wants You to Know about Our First Meeting

By Grayson Cannon

Today, the Phillips & Ingrum building is still located in historic downtown Gallatin at 117 East Main Street. We are two doors down from the Gallatin Public Library and across the street from the Sumner County Courthouse.

Many times clients call us, or email us, or even text or Facebook message us wanting to start a case.  When we ask them to schedule a meeting to discuss the matter, they aren’t sure why we need or want to do this.  Let us try to explain why meeting face to face is the best way for us to start a relationship.

  1. 1. It is a relationship.  I will be helping you through something that may rank as the most stressful event of your life, or maybe the most important.  Establishing a bond of trust and good communication is critical.  If we’ve never looked one another in the eye, that bond just isn’t the same.
  2. Communication is better in person.  It just is.  Reading your body language and verbal inflection provide clues to me about topics I may need to ask more questions about.  I can’t get that in an email.  If I have not investigated your case thoroughly enough or asked enough questions to fully understand what we are dealing with, we might not get the result we are hoping for.
  3. I can determine what kind of witness you will make.  If your case is one that may require you to testify in front of a judge or jury at some point, knowing that you have problems presenting your story gives me the chance to help you improve in that area.
  4. I can review any critical paperwork you have.  Sure, you can email it to me, but many folks don’t have a good scanner, or have trouble making copies of odd-size legal documents.  That photo you took on your cell phone might be blurry or make the words illegible.  If there are clearly pages missing I can spot that too.  If we are meeting face to face, I might just be able to give you my impression on the spot, instead of having you wait for a return email or letter.
  5. I may need you to sign paperwork to allow me to help you with a case.  Meeting with you lets me go over that paperwork and answer any questions you have about it before you sign.
  6. Our level of confidentiality is improved.  Sending things via fax or email, or discussing things over your cell phone, might more easily allow our communications to be intercepted.  That’s far less likely to happen person to person in my private law office.
  7. Some forms of communication don’t allow me to document them for your file.  I know all of you think that email is some kind of old fogey thing.  But I have no way to save or print text messages or Facebook messenger communications for your file.  Important information you send me in these formats might get lost or neglected because I can’t print or save them directly to your file.  Please DO NOT text or Facebook messenger me about your need for legal services!  If we are meeting face to face I’ll have my notes which I can put in your file to document what we talked about.
  8. The Court will expect some face time from you at some point.  If your matter is one of the many types of cases we handle that will eventually require a hearing, you are going to have to show up for court one day.  The Judge does not want to hear that you are too busy to come to court, and you can’t just phone it in.  If a hearing, deposition or mediation has been scheduled in your case that requires your attendance, you will have to show up.

So, when I ask you for a face to face meeting,  don’t assume I’m trying to make it harder on you.  I’m really just trying to be a better advocate for you and understand you and your case better than I ever could via a phone call or email.  While we certainly understand that not everyone can come in for a meeting, these are some important reasons why we’d want you to.  We look forward to seeing you about your case!