Q: Some lawyers appear to offer free consultations, while others do not. Is it worthwhile to seek a free consultation with a lawyer?

A: Many lawyers do offer an opportunity to meet briefly at no charge. If a free consultation is offered, by all means take advantage of it. The primary purpose of such a meeting is for you to get to know the lawyer, and for the lawyer to better understand if you will be a good potential client. In most cases, it is not appropriate to expect extensive legal advice in such a meeting. Instead, the free consultation can provide an excellent opportunity for you to assess the lawyer's personality and skill set, and to decide if you are comfortable with his or her style. Unless you have received a recommendation from a trusted source, I would not recommend hiring the first lawyer you talk to. It is a good idea to interview at least two or three attorneys before you make a hiring decision. Be sure to ask about fee requirements, but don't make cost your primary consideration. If you are looking for a certain type of lawyer, make that clear. Some clients are looking for an attorney to take an aggressive stance against a difficult adversary, while others may be looking for a diplomatic negotiator. Be sure you set out your goals and objectives clearly so the lawyer can understand if he or she will be able to provide the kind of representation you are looking for. As part of the consultation, ask to review the fee agreement. Run a quick online search and review the lawyer's client feedback before you make a hiring decision. The free consultation is much like a job interview, where are you are the employer and the lawyer is the potential hire. Don't be afraid to ask about the lawyer's experience with a particular judge or opponent if you know who is representing your soon to be ex spouse. The decision of who to hire as your lawyer is one of the most important ones you will face along the way, and it should not be taken lightly.

If you are interested in a free divorce consultation with Attorney Kates, contact him at (616) 399-4700 or tkates@attorneykates.com