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Three Meeting Rule – family law

Posted on September 22, 2010 by J. Benjamin Stevens

The types of issues that a client needs to discuss with his attorney in Family Court cases can be (and often are) embarrassing. Imagine for a moment what it must be like to have to tell a complete stranger the most intimate details of your married life, to perhaps have to relive a particularly painful incident, or to admit to some extremely embarrassing things that you have done.  Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

Yet these types of discussions take place every day in my office and other attorneys’ offices across the country. Some people are forthcoming and disclose these types of facts right away, but most take a little time before feeling comfortable enough with their attorney to do so. Over these many years, I have adopted what I call the “three meeting rule”. I assume that I don’t know anything close to what all I need to know until I have met with a client three times.



In the packet of information that I give to all of my clients once they retain me, I encourage them (in several different places and in several different ways) to tell me all of the pertinent facts — no matter how much they don’t want to and no matter how sure they are that the embarrassing facts will never come out. I explain that it is in their best interest to do so and that the failure to do so will hurt them — not me. The reality is that if I know about the damaging information I can attempt to do something about it, but if I don’t then I can’t.

Does the “three meeting rule” always work? Unfortunately not, because no matter how much I encourage full disclosure from my clients, there is always someone who can’t help but think “oh that won’t happen to me” — only to later act shocked when it does.  Do yourself, your lawyer, and your case a huge favor and don’t be that person. Take a deep breath and have that talk with your attorney that you have been dreading. You will feel better afterward and you will certainly fare better in your case.