Your Initial Consultation At Next Phase Legal
We understand. Making that first appointment is a big step. Sure, you may have been thinking about it for a long time, but suddenly scheduling a meeting may make things seem very real and even a little nerve-wracking.
We expect most of our initial visitors are nervous when they walk through our door. Remember, you are just scheduling an appointment to meet us, get some of your questions answered, learn more about the issues related to your situation, and maybe even identify your next steps.
Of course, you may decide that your next step is to do nothing for now, and that is fine. There is no pressure for you to commit to anything at your initial consultation, and we appreciate that you have much to consider.
Below are some frequently asked questions about initial consultations – and answers – because a list of questions alone isn’t much help. We have several consultation options available, because one-size does not fit all at Next Phase Legal.
FAQs About Your First Meeting – Initial Consultations at Next Phase Legal
1. Do you offer free consultations?
We do not offer free consultations. Within the legal industry, free consultations serve mainly as a marketing ploy and a somewhat desperate attempt to get warm bodies into a lawyer or mediator’s office. Most established family mediators and attorneys in our geographic area do not provide free consultations. Some professionals charge their full hourly rate, which could translate into an expensive exercise – especially if you decide it was not the best fit. For example, if the hourly rate of a divorce attorney or mediator is $400.00, an hour and a half meeting would be $600.00! (If you were wondering, I did do that math in my head.)
At Next Phase Legal, our consults are all flat fees. After years of keeping our consultation price the same, starting on January 1, 2019, the consultation fee is $200.00 for a one-hour meeting.
2. Let’s Get This Show On the Road. How do I Schedule My Consultation?
This is an easy one. We strive to be efficient here at NPL and respectful of your time. Throughout this website you will see some options for scheduling appointments. You can schedule through our Bot, or by clicking on the black tab on the right-hand side of the website pages that reads “Book Now.” You cal also call us on the phone. Like in the good old days.
1) Select the type of meeting or consult that seems to fit your needs the best;
2) Schedule your meeting through our online scheduling tool; and
3) Easily pay for your consultation online through our secure credit card processing provider.
3. Why must I pay for my consultation in advance?
It is just more convenient for us and for you to pay for your meeting with a credit or debit card before you arrive at our office. We do not have to use your time or ours at the end of the consultation to gather and process your credit card payment, so we even have a few more minutes to chat with you.
We have also found that obtaining payments in advance minimizes “no-shows” – the few people in the world who are just way too important or busy or whatever to call us and reschedule their meeting in advance. We understand that unexpected things in life happen, so if you are just swamped at work or your family is suffering from a stomach bug, then please just get in touch to reschedule your meeting (especially if it is the stomach bug).
Are you in stealth mode? If you do not want your significant other to see a charge from our office, then please call to discuss alternative forms of payment, i.e. cash or check.
4. What If I want to Cancel My Consultation?
No problem, you can absolutely cancel your initial consultation and reschedule. The consult fee is generally non-refundable, meaning you can reschedule, but we don’t typically refund the fee. I suppose that is because no one has ever asked. Please let us know at least 24 hours in advance if you are rescheduling. If you are one of those “no-show” people, then your payment is non-refundable, but you may still reschedule.
5. What should I bring to the initial consultation?
It is not generally necessary to bring documents to the first meeting. No need to bring boxes of financial documents. You probably have lots of questions, so we suggest you jot some down beforehand and bring them along. If you have legal documents related to your case, such as a summons, complaint or a letter from an attorney, please bring them with you.
Oh, and we like children, but it just isn’t a good idea to bring children to your appointment.
6. My spouse and I are interested in divorce mediation. Should we come in together?
Yes, it is best to schedule a joint meeting if considering divorce mediation, but some people prefer to come in by themselves initially. Do what makes you most comfortable, but in most instances, we suggest coming in together.
7. Who Will I Meet With?
You will meet with one of our attorney/mediators. Firm owner Stephen McDonough conducts most of our consultations. We know you’re excited, it’s ok.
8. Can I arrange for a telephone or video-conference consultation (such as Skype), or an evening or weekend appointment?
We can easily schedule your online consultation, all you need is the internet, a computer with a camera and a microphone, or a smartphone or tablet. if you prefer phone only, that is fine. We have had good success with online meetings, and even conduct entire mediations through our secure online platforms. As above, payment must be made at least 48 hours in advance.
After hours and weekend meeting times are limited, but we’ll do our best to accommodate your scheduling requests. We do tend to charge extra for an after-hours or weekend meetings. Please call us at (508) 359-4043 to discuss. When we say “after hours” we mean a consultation that starts after 5:00 p.m.
9. What happens at the consultation?
We want to hear from you about your situation, including your concerns and goals. If something is causing you a lot of stress, we should talk about that so hopefully, you will feel less stressed when you leave. We want you to ask your questions. Everything is confidential, and it is a time for us to explore if working together seems like a good fit. Most people find it helpful to discuss process options, such as divorce mediation compared to the collaborative divorce process for example, and get information about fees. Identifying next steps can also be useful.
10. I’m nervous. Can I bring a friend or other relative to the meeting?
We suggest that you come alone to the consultation unless it is a joint mediation consultation. Everything discussed at a consultation is privileged and confidential. If there is a third person present (unless affiliated with our firm) the privilege is lost. It is up to you however, and if you want to bring a wing-person, then it is fine with us.
Hopefully, this answers many of your questions about consultations. If you have more, please just get in touch.