Meeting with your Lawyer: Bringing Someone?
When meeting with your lawyer, you may bring whomever you like with. However, whether you should bring someone with you is another question.
Possible Benefits of Bringing Someone with You
1. Reduces Stress:
Divorces and other family law cases can be incredibly stressful. Some people find it calming to bring a family member or friend along to provide support.
2. Provides Additional Support:
If you’re shy, sometimes bringing someone along can make it easier to open up to your lawyer by being with someone familiar.
3. Assistance with memory & Information:
The other person may provide helpful information that you’ve forgotten . In addition, he or she may be able to help you recall what was said during the meeting.
Possible Cons of Bringing Someone with You
1. Reduce Focus and Concentration:
If the other person is a family member or close friend, he or she may be angry at your spouse. If that person is vocal, he or she may end up causing more stress and may distract you from staying focused on your goals at the meeting. We suggest only bringing someone you know who will be a positive support in the context of the meeting.
2. Lack of Privacy & Confidentiality:
You’ve probably heard of the “attorney-client privilege”. In a nutshell, anything that you tell your lawyer, just like with a doctor, is considered confidential information. Your attorney will not release this information without your consent. However, if you bring someone with you to the meeting with you and your lawyer, you waive that privilege and your information is no longer protected.
Although attorneys rarely raise this objection in practice, privacy and confidentiality can’t be guaranteed when you bring someone else. In addition, even if you trust the person you’re bringing with you, you still may not want them to know everything. Consequently, you may not fully disclose necessary information to your lawyer. This can end up hurting you during your case.
3. Unwanted Opinions or Differing Goals:
Sometimes your guest may offer his or her suggestions. This can be especially troublesome if you don’t share the same opinion. This happens more frequently when the 3rd party is also paying the lawyer for his or her legal services.
Therefore, if the person you’re bringing with you is also paying for the retainer, it’s important that your lawyer is clear that you’re the client, not the payor. In addition, the lawyer should inform the person paying that the lawyer serves your wishes and your wishes only, as his or her client.
Should My Spouse Meet with Me and My Lawyer?
This is a special case of bringing in a 3rd party. Sometimes when the divorce is almost completely agreed upon, and the other spouse doesn’t have an attorney, a spouse may want to bring their soon to be ex-spouse with them. However, we highly recommend that if you want to bring your soon to be ex-spouse, that you discuss the matter with your divorce attorney beforehand.
Bringing a Spouse To Meet Your Divorce Attorney:
1. Your spouse does not have an inherent right to sit in on your meetings with your lawyer, even if he or she doesn’t have a lawyer of his or her own. Whether or not he or she attends is solely at your and your attorney’s discretion.
2. If you decide to bring your spouse, your lawyer should make clear to you and your spouse that he or she is your lawyer only and represents only your interests.
3. If you decide to bring your spouse, your lawyer, also, should not provide any legal advice to your spouse other than to advise him or her of the right to get his or her own lawyer.
This can be a big problem and is largely why we recommend not bringing your spouse to any meetings. Your attorney has a duty to be your advocate. Your spouse may ask questions that your attorney could not honestly answer without adversely affecting your position. This would be violation of your lawyer’s ethical duties to you.
Last Thoughts on Meeting with Your Lawyer
No one has a right to meet with you and your lawyer if you don’t want them to. This is regardless of the individual’s relationship to you and whether or not he or she is paying for your legal services.
There are pros and cons to bringing someone when meeting with your lawyer. We just shared a few. However, your best bet may be to make a list that is specific to your own needs and current situation.
In addition, although you may bring a guest to your meetings with your lawyer, it’s a good idea to let your lawyer know ahead of time if you will be bringing someone and who you will be bringing with you. This way, your lawyer can also discuss any potential issues or concerns particular to your case that you may want to consider before bringing someone with you and so you can be assured that it will be in your best interest to do so.
For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page. If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.