Your meeting with your attorney (or potential attorney) is scheduled and your next questions are: “What should I bring?” “What should I say or not say?”
You should bring with you any documents, photographs or other tangible evidence you have (assuming the evidence can be safely transported to your attorney’s office). The initial meeting is your opportunity to paint with broad strokes the totality of your case.
Don’t assume your attorney knows something about you or has seen a certain document before. If you have it, then bring it with you. If it is not needed afterward, then there is no harm.
Clients sometimes express concern that they may say something to their attorney that will hurt their case or they don’t want to reveal something that is embarrassing or that their attorney may not like to hear. You must be honest and up-front with your attorney during the initial consultation and provide your attorney with the good, the bad and the ugly parts of your case. No case is perfect and your attorney must be aware of the flaws that exist so that they can provide the best representation possible. Any information or documentation that may “harm” your case will only result in greater damage if your attorney is not aware of it.
With very limited exceptions, things you tell your attorney are protected under the doctrine of attorney-client privilege. This means that you are not required to reveal what you say to your attorney and someone cannot ask you: “What did you tell your attorney?”
Further, under the Rules of Professional Conduct, your attorney is prohibited from revealing communications he or she had with you unless you specifically authorize it, or it is necessary in order to effectively represent you, or you tell your attorney that you are about to commit a crime that will lead to the death or substantial harm of another.
An open dialogue with your attorney is a fundamental component of the attorney-client relationship. You must feel that you can trust your attorney with the information you provide. Likewise, your attorney must be confident that you will share all information you have concerning your case. It is imperative that both the attorney and the client remain open and transparent during the initial consultation so that an appropriate scope of the case and resolution strategy can be formed.