Whether it’s your first time in the courtroom or you have been there before, here are a few things to know (or remember) about preparing for a court date.
- Write down the address the day before and put it in your wallet or purse. This includes the street address, the floor and room number of the hearing. You may think you will remember, but on the day of the event when you are feeling stressed, you will be happy this is taken care of.
- Know in advance where and you are meeting your lawyer. He or she may want to meet with you in advance of the hearing/trial or simply walk in together.
- Be early. The judge will not wait for you. Plan accordingly for traffic backups, being lost, parking issues or car breakdowns. Being early will keep you from being late.
- Dress appropriately. Talk with your lawyer in advance regarding your appearance. Clean, neat and conservative is always best.
- Once you get there turn off the ringer on your phone. To be safe, turn off the entire phone. You won’t be talking to anyone during your hearing.
- Practice being quiet. Your lawyer is there to represent you. She will have prepared you in advance for what to expect when you get there. Do not speak in court unless your lawyer signals to you that it is okay.
- Depending on what you are appearing in court for, you may need to be prepared to complete paperwork or testify. Be sure to ask your lawyer what the possible outcomes may be for your court appearance so you can adequately prepare.
Court can be stressful, but taking the steps above can help to make it more pleasant.
You’ve never had to meet with a lawyer before, but something has occurred in your life to make it necessary. Maybe it’s a custody situation, maybe you are seeking a divorce, or maybe you need protection from an abusive partner. Regardless of the reason, here are a few things to keep in mind before meeting with your lawyer the first time:
- Be helpful. Bring any paperwork that can assist your lawyer to understand the case better or to aid in preparation for court. If you think it might be helpful, bring a copy for their reference. Also, provide things in writing such as your contact information, birthdate, name of the opposing party, the name of their legal counsel (if applicable), and any previous case information.
- Be organized. There’s a lot of information and paperwork involved in even the simplest case. The easier it is to sort through, the better it is for everybody.
- Be honest. If your lawyer asks you a question, give them an honest answer. If you did something wrong, be sure to tell your lawyer. It’s better to know the truth and prepare for it than be shocked by hearing it for the first time in front of the Judge.
- Be detailed. Don’t tell your lawyer only what the opposing party did and leave out how you reacted to it, etc. Your lawyer needs to know the entire truth if she is going to properly represent you in court.
- Be realistic. Understand that your lawyer will do all they can for you … but they are not miracle workers and must work within the rules of the law and the court system.
- Be focused. The more precise you can be, the more you may help your case!
Think of you and your lawyer as a team. You must work together with honesty and trust. Your lawyer wants you to be happy and to earn the outcome you are seeking, so be sure to do your part to keep the relationship positive and productive!