Many Illinois work injury lawyers advertise that they offer a “free consultation” to potential clients. Are they offering anything of substance or are they simply trying to get you in the door? It’s probably a little bit of both, but generally speaking, the free consultation is a good thing for both sides. You can get your basic questions answered, and the lawyer can find out if they are interested in taking on your case.

As a potential client, you don’t really having anything to lose in a free consultation. There are so many unknowns when you walk into a lawyer’s office for the first time or pick up the phone to call them. Do you even need a lawyer? Do you have a good case? Are you even calling the right kind of law firm? A free consultation is going to answer a lot of your questions and put your legal issue into perspective.

It’s a good sign if the attorney is upfront and honest during your consultation. While an attorney shouldn’t make any promises (because they don’t know for certain how your case will turn out), they should be able to help you understand some of the following:

– Whether you have a “good” case
– The relevant law in that area
– The process for resolving your issue with legal action
– How long you can expect that process to take
– What you should or shouldn’t do to help your case
– The potential outcomes you can expect
– The pros and cons of different strategies

If you finish the consultation and realize that you forgot to ask something, you should be able to get a follow-up answer. Most attorneys want to have these early conversations as much as you do – to find out if it makes sense for you to work together.

If you decide to hire the attorney you met with, make sure you discuss important things such as their fee, how often you can expect to hear from them, and what you should do or avoid doing to help your case. Note that for injury cases, including workers’ compensation, you shouldn’t be asked to pay any fee or cover any costs upfront. 

By Michael Helfand