Meeting with your Lawyer: Bringing Someone?
If you’re meeting with your lawyer, you may be wondering if you can bring someone with you. Yes. For the most part, you may bring whomever you like with you when you meet with your divorce lawyer or family law attorney. However, whether you should bring someone with you to meet with you and your divorce attorney or lawyer, is another question.
Possible Benefits of Bringing Someone with You
1. Reduces Stress:
Divorces and other family law situations can be incredibly stressful and some people find it calming to be able to bring a family member or friend along with him/her for additional 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 in the presence of someone familiar.
3. Assistance with Remembering Things & Providing Information:
The person you bring may also provide helpful information that you may not be thinking about or otherwise may have forgotten to mention to your lawyer. In addition, s/he may be able to help you recall what was said during the meeting if you have trouble remembering later.
Possible Cons of Bringing Someone with You
1. Reduce Focus and Concentration:
Sometimes, especially if the person you’re bringing with you is a family member or a close friend, s/he may be angry at your spouse. Especially if that person is vocal, this may end up causing you more stress and can distract you from staying focused on your goals at the meeting.
Therefore, you should use your best judgment, as you know your family and friends best. In addition, only bring 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 and therefore, cannot be released 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 this rarely arises in practice, privacy and confidentiality can’t be guaranteed when you bring someone else into the mix. In addition, even if you trust the person you’re bringing with you, you still may not want them to know everything and therefore, may not be completely honest about your concerns and up front with your lawyer, which can end up hurting you in the end.
3. Unwanted Opinions and/or Differing Goals:
Sometimes when you bring someone to meet with your attorney, the guest starts to offer his/her suggestions. This is can especially troublesome if you don’t share the same opinion nor have the same priorities as your guest. This happens more frequently when the individual that the person brings is also the individual that is paying the lawyer for his/her legal services.
Therefore, if the person you’re bringing with you is also the person who is paying for the retainer, it’s important that your lawyer is clear that you’re the client, not the individual who is paying the bill. In addition, the lawyer should inform the person paying, that the lawyer serves your wishes and your wishes only, as you are his/her client.
Should My Spouse Meet with Me and My Lawyer?
Sometimes when the divorce is almost completely agreed upon, and the other spouse doesn’t have an attorney, we’ve had clients who wanted to bring their soon to be ex-spouse with them as a gesture of good faith and mutual respect. 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.
What to Know if you Bring Your Spouse With You 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 s/he doesn’t have a lawyer of his/her own. However, if you want, you can ask your spouse to visit your lawyer with you, although it may not be in your best interests.
2. If you decide to bring your spouse, your lawyer should make clear to you and your spouse that s/he 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/her of the right to get his/her own lawyer.
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 be there. This is regardless of the individual’s relationship to you and whether or not s/he is paying for the legal services. Who comes with you and who is allowed to meet with you and your attorney is completely and 100% up to you.
There are pros and cons to bringing someone with you when meeting with your lawyer. We just shared a few to give you an idea and get you thinking. Your best bet is 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 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.