Why do I need to bring you a timeline and give you info for our consultation?

“Why do I need to bring you a timeline and give you info for our consultation?”

Why do I need to bring you a timeline and give you info for our consultation?When we have a consultation we need certain information from you including a timeline of what happened when.

Sometimes potential clients don’t want to get us documents — they say, “I have a specific question and I just want you to answer that one question.  I don’t need to share any other information with you.”

We respectfully decline to consider letting these folks be our clients as the relationship will never work.

While these folks think there issue is a very specific and isolated one, very rarely is that the case.  Let me give you a recent example.

A homeowner comes to us as they are starting to fall behind on their mortgage.  They only want to know about a deed in lieu of foreclosure.  That’s it — nothing else.

We requested credit reports.  Information about the value of the home, the amount owed, plans to stay or leave, whether they had applied for loss mitigation, etc.

This offended this guy.


“I don’t need to give you any of that for you to answer my simple question on a deed in lieu of a foreclosure.  If you were a good lawyer you could just answer will I be successful with a deed in lieu rather than wasting my time with these other issues that are not relevant.”

I chose not to waste my time explaining to this guy as it would not have mattered but perhaps this will interest you.

In a foreclosure context, we can’t just jump straight to a deed in lieu.  We also need to know if we have any leverage over the mortgage company.  So does the FDCPA — Fair Debt Collection Practices Act apply (depends on when loan was transferred to current servicer thus the timeline)?  Any false credit reporting (FCRA — Fair Credit Reporting Act) that will help us to “encourage” the mortgage company to do a deed in lieu?

Do we have RESPA claims — any notice of error letters sent or request for information letters sent?

Does he really want and need a deed in lieu or is that what he thinks he needs?  Maybe we could get a great loan modification and he would stay — that has happened a number of times.  Its as if a screen is lifted from their eyes and they say “Oh, wow, I never knew that was a possibility.”

I remember a client who was sued and we were able to show that the creditor suing had violated the law and that creditor paid our client six figures.  I’m pretty sure that client was happy we didn’t just answer her question on how much it would cost to help her settle the debt.  Instead we probed and found a much better (six figures better!) option for her.

Same with all the other areas of law we practice in — we need to know details of the background story so that we can see what makes sense for you.

Here’s a metaphor — which is better, a plane or a car?

“Well, I need to know what you want to do with it first.”

“No — if you were a good lawyer/transportation expert/etc. you could just tell me — don’t waste my time with any questions.  I just want the answer!!”

So what is the answer?

If this guy is going to Hawaii, what is the answer?

Obviously a plane ‘cuz you ain’t getting there in a car, right?  🙂

Well what if he is in Gardendale (Birmingham) and wants to go to Cullman to buy groceries and then stop by a Redbox and get a movie and then go home?

I suppose a plane could do that but not very practical — you would say “A car is your best bet buddy.”

See a car is not inherently better than a plane or a plane than a car or a boat or walking etc.

It all depends on the circumstances.

If someone is going to a professional — a lawyer — and they don’t want to reveal any details, then the lawyer can’t help.  Kind of like a doctor asking you what is wrong, what medicines you take, your medical history, etc. and then giving you a prescription.  Just like a doc would not give you a RX without knowing this info, we can’t give you advice without knowing your situation.

So when we ask for information, it is not to intrude or cause you unnecessary work.  Instead it is so we can actually help you.

Certainly if you have questions about why we have requested information or documents, you should feel free to ask us.  Understand we are only asking for things we believe will help us help you and we will be happy to explain how the information or documents helps us to help you.  Trust me, we have enough paper as it is — we don’t want any we don’t need.  🙂

I hope this has helped explain why we need to ask for details and if you have any questions give us a call at 205-879-2447 or contact us through our website here.


John Watts

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