In some ways, the consultation process can be the most important part of a client’s case. Usually, during the initial phone call and meeting, people have important facts fresh on their minds, which can be critical for us in understanding what needs to be done. During these first steps, we collect a great deal of important information that can literally make or break a case.
How it Works
The consultation process has two steps: the telephone Intake Interview and the Consultation Meeting.
- Intake Interview
The first step in the consultation process is to contact our office for a telephone Intake interview. The Intake Interview call usually takes fifteen to thirty minutes. There is no cost for the Intake Interview. Potential clients can simply call the office to set up a time to talk by phone, or they can contact us through the Contact Us page on this website. If the website contact page is used, we will communicate with a potential client trough email to set up the Initial Intake telephone call.
During the Intake Interview telephone call, we will take down basic information about the people involved in a case to make sure we don’t have a conflict of interest. If there is no conflict, one of our team members will ask some specific questions about the parties and the case. The parties are the people that are directly involved the case, the Plaintiff and the Defendant. We will also ask about other people who are involved, such as children, grandparents or other adults. We will ask financial questions that are important for understanding virtually all cases we handle. We ask about the reason a potential client is calling, as well as whether there is currently a case pending. At the end of the Intake Interview, we will set up a Consultation Meeting for a time that is convenient for the potential client and our attorneys.
There is no cost for the Intake Interview phone call.
The intake interview is conducted by an employee of McNinch Law Firm, PLLC from our office in Brandon, Mississippi. You will not be routed to a call center. You will talk to a member of our team.
Generally, no legal advice is given during the Intake Interview.
Telephone representatives at McNinch Law Firm, PLLC are not allowed to quote prices for cases during the Intake Interview call. Experience has shown us there is no way to quote prices for cases after short telephone calls. More detail is needed to provide an estimate for fees and expenses. The potential price of a case is discussed in the Consultation Meeting. More information on pricing can be found on the Pricing page of this website.
- Consultation Meeting
The Consultation Meeting is usually held at our office in Brandon, Mississippi, but we work with many people who can’t come in for office meetings, so we frequently have consultations by Skype or by phone. We can also meet with potential clients at other locations in the Jackson, Mississippi area to make the meeting as convenient as possible. Out-of-town meetings can be scheduled by special arrangement.
The Consultation Meeting usually lasts for about an hour-and- a-half to two hours. Both of our attorneys usually meet with potential clients together, since we work on cases as a team. During this meeting, we ask dozens of questions about finances, family relationships, and other important topics, depending on the kind of case the potential client has. Most importantly, the potential client tells us what is going on and why they need help.
Cost of a Consultation Meeting
We charge $350.00 for a Consultation Meeting. If the meeting takes place at our office, payment is due at the beginning of the meeting. For office meetings, we accept cash, personal checks, and credit cards. If the meeting takes place by Skype, FaceTime, or by phone, we a can accept a check, credit card, or debit card payment prior to the meeting.
Potential clients who cannot afford to pay for a consultation can contact the following groups to inquire about low-cost legal services:
275 Roseneath Ave, Jackson, MS 39203
Phone: (601) 608-0050
Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project
1635 Lelia Dr #101, Jackson, MS 39216
Phone: (601) 960-9577
What to Expect in the Consultation Meeting
Our attorneys will ask potential clients dozens of questions in the consultation meeting. Many of the questions are very personal. It’s not because our attorneys are nosy. It’s because most family law cases are extremely personal. Potential clients should be prepared to discuss literally any aspect of their lives that are related to the case. Even parts of their past that may not seem relevant could be relevant.
Honesty is very important in the Consultation Meeting. The worst thing a potential client can do is intentionally misrepresent or withhold significant facts. A person’s attorney certainly can’t help deal with an issue if important information is withheld. In other words, potential clients should be prepared to be very open during the meeting. Not to worry, though: over the years, we’ve pretty much heard it all.
The costs and expenses of a case are estimated during the Consultation Meeting. More information on fees and expenses can be viewed on the Pricing page of this website.
What to Bring to (and Think About Before) the Consultation Meeting
It is very helpful for our attorneys to have as much information as possible regarding a case from the outset. Having an idea of what information we will want can be useful for potential clients in planning for the Consultation Meeting. Some examples of this information follow; some of this information will be in the form of documents and papers, while some information will be in a potential client’s memory. Please understand that this list is only for information on what to expect, and a potential client should not feel required to get a complete list or collection of this information together before setting up a Consultation Meeting. In other words, don’t be overwhelmed by the information our attorneys will likely ask about; it’s very common for potential clients to be unaware of some or most of these things.
- Divorce: Financial information is very important in a divorce case, so it is helpful for us to have information on each spouse’s income and deductions or withholdings from that income. Values for assets, such as the family home, cars, and other valuables, whether the assets are in the name of one spouse or both. If there is real estate other than the family home, values for that property are also very important. The balances of financial accounts, like retirement funds, banking accounts, investments, and the like, are also very important. Information about debts, whether they are individual or joint, will also be critical in a divorce case. Common debts are the mortgage on the family home, notes payable on other real estate, taxes, credit card debt, lines of credit, student loan debts, auto loans, loans secured by other vehicles, like ATV’s or farm equipment, and other personal loans. Values and debts of family owned businesses should also be discussed, as those matters will more than likely be relevant in a divorce action. These expenses include all financial expenditures necessary to keep the family afloat during the month. Many potential clients have no idea – or very little idea – about asset values, debt balances, and even monthly expenses. That’s completely fine. Even if a potential client lacks this financial information, once our firm is hired, in most cases, we will have the ability to obtain this information. Other important information in a divorce case includes facts about the reason a person is seeking a divorce. Our Divorce Center page provides more detailed information about the general divorce process and our divorce system in Mississippi. Our attorneys will ask about the reasons a divorce is being sought, focusing on which “fault ground” might apply to a particular case. If there are children involved, facts regarding them will be important; therefore, the discussion of Child Custody cases that follows would apply equally in a divorce case where the parties have children.
- Child Custody: Child custody actions are all about what is best for the children involved. Information and documents relating to these factors are important in custody cases: the children’s health; the parent or person who the children have been living with; the parenting skills of the parties; the willingness and capacity of the parties to provide care for the children; the parties’ employment, and the responsibilities and stability of that employment; the parties’ physical and mental health; the parties’ ages; the emotional ties of the parties to the children; the moral fitness of the parties; if the children are over twelve (12) years old, the preference of the children as to the party with whom the children would like to live; and the stability of the parties’ home(s).
- Contempt: In a contempt case, the issue is whether someone violated a Judgment or Order of a court. Many contempt cases are about a person’s failure to abide by a financial award or a custody/visitation arrangement. The Plaintiff in such a case would be asked to identify the financial award and provide a history of payments or installments on the award. Plaintiffs frequently put together a list of payments made by the Defendant, which also lists the payments or installments that were not paid. Detailed information about payment history is critical in financial contempt cases. Defendants in financial contempt cases could also put together a history or chronology of payments to assist in defending against the claim. In a custody/visitation contempt case, details about the violations are very important. This kind of information could include things le the dates on which a visitation or custodial period were prevented, or ways in which a person interfered with court-ordered visitation or custody. A more detailed discussion of contempt cases can be found on the Problems After Divorce page.
- Modification: The issues in modification cases vary widely from changes in child support to changes in child custody to changes in alimony payments, and everything in between. Usually, the issue is about what has changed; therefore, information about the material, or significant, change is critical to an attorney’s assessment of the case. Modification cases are discussed in more detail on the Problems After Divorce page.
- Pending Cases: If a case has already been filed and is currently pending, our attorneys would like to see a copy of the Complaint (sometimes called a Petition) and Summons that have been filed. Also, a copy of the Answer, if one has been filed, could be useful in the consultation meeting. Copies of a previous Judgment, as in modification or contempt case, will be important.
- Alienation of Affection: In most alienation of affection scenarios, a marriage has already been dissolved by divorce. A copy of the Judgment of Divorce, along with any related agreement in an Irreconcilable Differences divorce, such a Child Custody and property Settlement Agreement or Marital Dissolution Agreement, would be important for our attorneys to review. Information about the person who interfered with the marriage, like their city and state of residence, employment is ultimately very important in an alienation of affection case. The believed location of the liaisons between the guilty spouse and the third party is relevant in an alienation of affection case. If known, information about the interfering party’s assets would be good information to have. Our team would also want to know as much detail as possible about the forbidden relationship.
What a Potential Client Gets in the Consultation Meeting
The goal of a Consultation Meeting is for the potential client to leave with a game plan and knowledge about how our legal process works. We intend to educate the potential client on the law that governs the particular case and how the law applies to the case. The potential client has the opportunity to ask questions, ask for advice, and get things off their chest. Our aim is to give each potential client a strategy for moving forward through the crisis, from beginning to end.
When a Potential Client Becomes a Client
At the conclusion of the Consultation Meeting, the potential client is provided a proposed Attorney Client Employment Agreement, which details the proposed terms of McNinch Law Firm’s potential representation of the client.
In most cases, once the proposed agreement is signed and the potential client’s payment is secured, the firm can begin work, and the person becomes a client of McNinch Law Firm, PLLC. Although everything discussed during the Intake Interview and Consultation Meeting are private, McNinch Law Firm, PLLC does not represent a person until the Attorney Client Employment Agreement is signed and the potential client’s payment has been secured.
A potential client’s communications with our firm are confidential. Everything a potential client tells us during the Intake Interview through the Consultation Meeting is secret, unless those statements fall into an exception under the Mississippi Rules of Professional Responsibility. Those exceptions include situations where a lawyer believes disclosure is necessary “to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm; . . . to prevent the client from committing a crime or fraud that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interest or property of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services; . . . [or] . . . to comply with other law or a court order.. We take privacy very seriously because we are required to, but also because we know it is extremely important to our clients, given the very personal nature of their cases.” See Mississippi Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(b)