Seeking legal advice or taking legal action can be a harrowing experience if you’re not prepared for it.


Whether you’ve suffered a vehicle accident, or have a family member that’s been victimized by medical malpractice or neglect, preparing for a legal consultation can be a daunting task.

Adding emotional factors like grief and other hardships can make the process even more complicated as time goes on. Many of us find ourselves overwhelmed by the required documentation, many while others have difficulty just finding a suitable place to begin.

We understand your frustration, and we’re here to help! No matter your level of experience with preparing for legal action, we’ve listed 7 steps below that you can take to help you keep on track.

1. Map it out

No one knows your case better than you do, so be sure to keep an accurate and honest timeline of what happened. Were you there to witness events first-hand? Write down for your attorney the memories of the events when they are fresh, as memories can fade for a multitude of reasons. Taking over for an elderly or ailing family member?

Consult with their friends, neighbors, and/or immediate family to help establish any events or occurrences that may have been unintentionally left out from the records you already may have access to. The more information you procure at this stage, the less you’ll have to worry about down the line.

2. Define your expectations

What is your desired outcome? What are additional acceptable results? Are there any results that are completely unacceptable? By having a clear idea of what needs you want met by the end of your case, your attorney will be better prepared for the litigation process. Creating a comprehensive list that prioritizes goals and results in a definitive way can also assist with a future negotiation process, in that it will give your attorney a solid framework of what they ought to fight for, and what they can excuse.

3. Get organized

It may be arduous, but having access to medical records, photographs, court orders, and other documents will also help you keep track of important information you and your attorney will need for the duration of the case. The process can be time-consuming, but this step will save you from considerable levels of stress during the length of the case – no one wants to be tasked with finding ten-month-old documents the week before a hearing. Tools you can use to get (and stay) organized are:

  • A file cabinet for large amounts of documents
  • 3-ring binder with vinyl sleeves
  • File folder with separated tabs
  • USB drive or external hard drive for digital and/or scanned documents

Keeping a separate calendar specifically for mapping important dates in the case can serve as a resource as well, particularly if the events in your case occur over the span of several months or even years.

4. Financial records

Here comes the hard part! While it may seem a bit intrusive, some cases may require financial history provable by various sources of information. There are several types of financial records that can serve as evidence of damages:

  • Insurance claims
  • Hospital bills
  • Doctor/specialist bills
  • Prescription receipts
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Bank statements

Be sure to make extra copies of everything as well, so you’ll have back-ups just in case. Keeping that designated binder or external drive especially for these documents can make the volume easier to manage. Your attorney will need to be able to access some of your personal information as well, as these documents may include social security numbers and/or additional account information. It will be helpful to compile a list of this information so that your attorney won’t need to spend time obtaining these facts from you at a later time.

Creating a comprehensive list that prioritizes goals and results in a definitive way can also assist with a future negotiation process…

5. Present your best self

Whether you’re meeting with your attorney to review documents or appearing in court for a hearing, be sure that you’re dressed appropriately for the situation and the service you expect to receive. A meeting with your attorney might not require a suit, for example, but a court appearance definitely does. Arriving in a timely manner to appointments displays the level of professionalism you expect from your attorney and their staff.

6. Ask questions

Keep a list of things you need clarification on while you’re gathering the aforementioned information. Will you need additional copies of certain documents? Is there additional financial information you’ll need to provide? Will anything need to be notarized? Getting clear answers to your questions will help you be better prepared for your case.

7. …And then ask more questions

After your case has been reviewed, be sure to take the opportunity to gather some additional information from your attorney. You may consider asking some of the following questions:

  • How long has the attorney practiced?
  • What is their educational background? Special accolades?
  • What is their specialty?
  • Have they ever handled a case like yours in the past?
  • How are fees determined and what are the preferred methods of payment?
  • Will you receive a fee agreement in writing?
  • Are expenses included in these fees?
  • Who will be doing the actual work on your case?

Finally, the above steps can already take so much time and effort that it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting instant results now that you’ve done all that work. It is incredibly important to remember to have patience during this process. Obtaining subsequent information from hospitals and insurance companies, for example, can be subject to administrative delays. Having some of that preliminary information ahead of time can certainly help the process move a bit quicker, but the process itself can take a long time. Asking your attorney what to expect can help ensure that you are all on the same page for expectations.


James Swartz, our Managing and Principal Attorney at Swartz & Swartz P.C., is a nationally recognized and respected trial attorney as well as consumer advocate. His practice focuses on cases involving negligence, torts, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and other claims involving catastrophic injuries.



Need Help?

If you or someone you know, needs help from a lawyer, contact the law offices of Swartz & Swartz, use our live chat, or send us a message using the form below and we’ll get in touch to assess your case and how we can help.

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