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In your search for a lawyer or for legal information or advice, you have probably come across a large number of advertisements and websites boldly proclaiming that they offer free legal consultations.

While legal consultations are a valuable service that lawyers can provide, it is important to know what a consultation is, and what it is not.

First of all, a legal consultation is not legal representation, and should not be treated as such. A consultation, by itself, does not result in the formation of an attorney/client relationship. Also, while some lawyers offer free legal consultations, they are under no obligation to do so. Many lawyers charge for consultations, and you should be clear on any fees before going into a consultation.

A legal consultation is simply a short meeting between a lawyer and a potential client, during which the potential gives the facts of his or her case to the lawyer, and the lawyer explains the legal implications of those facts. The lawyer, based on the facts provided, will then consult the client about his or her likely options, the probable outcome if the case goes to trial, and what the case is likely to cost. At this point, it is generally up to the client to decide if an attorney/client relationship is going to be formed.

A consultation is a good opportunity to ask the lawyer questions. Anything which you think might be probative of an attorney’s ability to effectively represent you should be asked.

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Last Modified: 07-24-2012 04:34 PM PDT

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