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Why should lawyers ask for full names of all parties before they schedule a consultation with you?

When you contact a law firm to get a consultation, you’re just getting the process started. You need to get a lot of information, learn more about the next steps and your prospects for recovery. But your attorney equally needs to gather a bunch of information, more than you may expect.

You may be surprised if they ask you for the full names of everyone who could be involved in your case– including the other parties. Why is it that lawyers need to have all of this information?

Avoiding a conflict of interest

The reason that lawyers do this is so that they can perform a “conflict check.” Essentially, they want to make sure that there is no sort of conflict of interest.

For example, perhaps you are seeking a modification of your child custody agreement. You’ve been having some conflicts with your ex and you believe he or she should no longer have custody. You’re seeking to remove the joint custody arrangement and set up sole custody instead, on the grounds that you believe it’s the only way to keep your child safe.

You may have an absolutely valid case, but what if the lawyer knows your ex-spouse? What if they have friends in common or they hang out frequently in the same social circles? What if they attend the same groups or religious meetings?

Technically, there may not be a legal conflict. Your lawyer isn’t going to stand to gain (financially or otherwise) by taking on the case. But it could still be fairly awkward if they find themselves in the middle of this case. It can also bring up questions about their intentions and whether or not they really have their client’s best interests in mind.

Similarly, what if your ex-spouse actually had a consultation with this same lawyer?  Did you know that even if your ex-spouse did not formally retain the lawyer, there is still a legal conflict if a consult took place.

As you can imagine, attorneys want to avoid these sorts of conflicts any time that they can. This is why many consultations simply start by identifying the parties who are involved.

Getting started

If you’re interested in setting up a consultation or getting your case underway, take the time to look into all of the necessary steps involved in this legal process. Don’t worry when law office nonprofessional staff and/or attorneys ask you these questions of spellings and names, etc.; they are simply following the model rules of professional conduct. You need to worry if these questions are not being asked before you have a consultation with an attorney.

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