For reprint by GWAAR Legal Services Team
When the need for a private attorney arises, locating and hiring the right attorney can be intimidating and confusing. A potential client must balance his or her need for representation with the associated costs as well as expectations of strong advocacy, competence, and trust. Many times, the need for representation arises suddenly and unexpectedly, forcing the prospective client to locate an attorney on short notice.
It is important to remember that simply walking into an attorney’s office does not mean that a prospective client is required, or even intends, to hire an attorney. The initial conversation with an attorney (or a member of his/her staff) should be used to ask questions, obtain information, and build trust between the client and the prospective attorney. Then, only if both parties are comfortable with the representation, should the client formally hire the attorney. Prospective clients should feel comfortable with the prospective attorney and should not hesitate to ask questions, request explanation, and demand answers. Some initial questions to ask:
- Does the attorney provide a free, initial consultation?
- Does the attorney handle cases of the type facing the client?
- Will the attorney require payment prior to the beginning of representation?
- What types of documentation and/or information will the attorney need for the initial office meeting?
- Has the attorney handled similar cases in the past?
ADRC of Brown County offers monthly appointments by phone or in person with Elder Law Attorneys. These attorneys volunteer their time to provide legal consultation on matters related to Elder Law issues such as long-term care, estate planning, advance directives, probate, wills, trusts, spousal impoverishment, and Medicaid. The appointments are limited to 30 minutes and the attorney will not generate any paperwork during the consultations. If you bring in any documents, the attorney can review and provide you with potential legal options. We ask that appointments are limited for each person to no more than two times per year for the same legal issue.
Keep in mind that some questions can be answered by the Benefit Specialist team at ADRC. Please call them at (920) 448-4300 to see if they can help or to be screened for a consult appointment with the volunteer Elder Law Attorney. Benefit Specialists can also provide other legal resources and an up-to-date listing of the Elder Law Attorneys in the area.
Other helpful legal resources include:
• Legal Action of Wisconsin (920) 432-4645
• Wisconsin State Bar Lawyer Referral Line (800) 362-9082
• Elder Rights Project (844) 614-5468
• Disability Rights Wisconsin (800) 928-8778
• Wisconsin Guardianship Support Center (855) 409-9410
• Oneida GTC Legal Resource Center (920) 496-5320
• Vivent Health (Aids Resource Center) (920) 437-7400