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The First Consult

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The First Consult

So you’ve made your appointment, today is D day and you’re a bag of nerves.  The only thing that’s holding you together is the thought that you can always get up and leave if you feel it’s too much for you to handle.

Wing tips, the onyx cuff links and that designer suit that cuts you right in the middle of your….???……maybe not a good idea to sit in it for longer than 30 mins. Lose that thought.

Three inch nails, 2 inch eyelashes, 6 inch heels and a 5 inch split in the neckline that says ‘Good Morning Judge’ shows what you’re …what? Serious? Sexy? …also maybe not the right look for you especially under the circumstances.

Get rid of the spiky hair gel and the powder for the after 5 shadow that arrives at 2 in the afternoon.

Restrain yourself from applying three & a half inches of pollyfiller /makeup and glitter – you’re not Santa’s little helper and you’ll probably cry!…a lot!!!

You’re not there to impress anyone; you’re there to get your story across, in detail and with honesty and supportive evidence if possible. There isn’t much your Attorney hasn’t already heard and they will be sympatico. If you’re dealing with Divorce you’re in for an emotional consult.

As you walk up to the Reception, you’ll be glad you dressed comfortably but smartly, left off the superfluous jewellery and let the hair and face go au naturel. That is being smart. Then after the consult you won’t look puffy and streaky.

Sitting in the light, bright Reception flicking through a magazine and reassuring yourself you can leave at any time; works for about 5-10 minutes and, just as you’re muttering about having left something into the car, Legal Secretaries approach you bearing smiles of welcome, forms to complete and refreshments to drink. They help you into a very nice boardroom and leave you with your coffee, your thoughts and the forms.  They are efficient and warm. You feel better for a moment and complete your forms with zest. Then, as if it were perfectly timed (which it is); as you put down your pen the Attending Attorney enters the Boardroom. Introductions are made – you don’t remember names – and suddenly you’re sitting at the boardroom table with your Attorney. The moment to flee has gone. In the silence you can hear your heart pounding, you feel completely alone and cut off and the moment of realisation is upon you. Yes – you really are doing this; it really is happening. This is the beginning of the end of your marriage.

You look at each other. The Attorney smiles but you are more cautious. Introductive pleasantries are made and you begin…..You have that sudden self-consciousness and it wraps itself around you making you feel hot and cold and awkward. By now, the consult has gotten to the stage where you’re being asked to show some of the documents you brought with you. The Attorney’s hands run across them almost as though reading braille and you realise this Attorney confidently knows their way around these things. Slowly you begin to loosen up and relax and then after answering more questions and discussing various aspect of your matter further, it’s clear you can work well with your Attorney; you start to feel safer with them; you trust them a little more and give them information you were going to hold back. The conversation flows well as you’re now being honest and contributing further information, (those moments of shall I tell or shan’t I have gone now); you’re telling your story and the Attorney is listening carefully; you agree with each other over more things, a short laugh or two here and there – less false, and the rapport strengthens.

It dawns on you that the Attorney’s eyes have barely left you. They’re watching you, studying you, getting to understand you and caring about your current situation but never once have they judged you.

Things start to wind down – as they do at the end of a meeting. The Attorney starts to gather the documents, you put the surplus back into your brief case or bag. You shake hands, the Attorney personally sees you off the premises with reassurance and you feel a bit unsteady and very light headed after an hour of intense conversation about your failed marriage. You’re certainly relieved as you unlock your car and drive off. A nagging thought at the back of your head: did you hear everything that was said? Can you remember all that conversation and advice? On the highway you wonder if you understood everything. Then you have this moment of great clarity. It doesn’t matter. You met with an Attorney who made you feel safe, gave you respect, showed concern and patience, and explained things in great detail.

You realise you’re smiling. You want to laugh out loud. When you’re almost home you feel the need to call someone…you call a friend and tell them you’re feeling better, you’ve found a great Attorney. That felt good so you call another friend and the same thing happens. A few more phone calls later you’re home with a big smile on your face and you’ve learned that some of your friends know your Attorney and speak well of that Law Firm.

Arms folded or hands in pockets you pace for a while, garden, kitchen for a glass of water, bedroom to change out of the shoes you shouldn’t have worn, into the comfy ones. Then sit, drum your fingers for a while  and finally make the second important call…….you phone ‘your Attorney’ and tell them you’re going to instruct them with your matter and will pay the deposit in an hour or so!

It wasn’t the actual consult that was scary – it was the facing up to all that bad stuff in the past that had led to the end of your marriage….the strange thing is that you realised that whilst speaking of it with your Attorney it actually set you free and released you from a lot of pain that you’d been dreading to deal with.

Now you can pin on a medal of bravery – the First Phone Call and the First Consult are over! Well done!

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