What to bring to your first meeting with an attorney

You have a dispute with your landlord. You have written letters but it has not been resolved. You made an appointment with a lawyer who concentrates in tenant matters. What do you do before the appointment?

The first thing you should do is retrieve all your documents. Even if the attorney did not tell you to bring them, you will want to obtain all documents regarding your tenancy. Putting your papers in chronological order is a plus. I have had clients who kept every single document their landlord has given them for the past 20 years. Reviewing your documents and asking you questions allows me to accurately assess the situation for you.

The second reason to bring in whatever documents you have is the lawyer can obtain an independent sense by looking at your papers what kind of relationship you have with your landlord. Has your landlord paid your interest on your deposit? Or has your landlord always sought an annual rent increase? I have seen landlords give nasty notices to tenants about minor issues. Typically, before I file a lawsuit, I take the client’s papers and put them in the client’s file. After the lawsuit is over, I give the papers back to the client.

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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Tenant Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

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