Prepare Yourself

Preparing for Initial Consultation

When seeking legal assistance you must come prepared to ask and answer questions because I can't help you if you are not ready to help yourself. An initial consultation is not the time to languish over each and every intimate detail that you may believe is pertinent to your case. I truly understand that facing legal problems creates stress and sparks emotions but during the initial consultation we need to determine a game plan to solve the problem; there will be time to delve into the painful details at a later date.
Prior to your consultation, develop a timeline of events, and the exact reason you are seeking advice.

For example, if you have a criminal matter, it is important for me to know the details of your arrest, what your charge(s) is, and even, what time of day the arrest happened. Believe it or not, some clients arrive without knowing the date of their arrest, this information is extremely important due to deadlines imposed by law.

If you are seeking advice concerning any domestic matter, please bring with you any previous court orders, a timeline of events that led you to my office, and what exactly you are seeking to accomplish. Also, be prepared to discuss assets, liabilities, domestic violence, extramarital affairs, paternity issues, etc.

One of the most important things to bring to the initial consultation is your honesty. I will ask you if you have a criminal history.This applies to all criminal and domestic law issues. If you do, tell me. I don't care what you have in your past, but the Judge will. I need this information to protect you. I will make the decision as to whether this will harm you. If I do not know about it but the other side does, I can tell you now, it will harm you. Arrests, convictions, pleas...I count all of these as criminal history.

Some of this preparation may be embarrassing but please remember everything you discuss in my office is protected by attorney-client privilege. (See Ethical Statement)

The next step in preparing for your consultation is writing out your questions for me. I do not expect you to know the law or the process, even if you have been involved with the court system before. If I do not know the answer to your question, I will do the research and get back with you.

Being prepared and getting your questions answered will help ease any anxiety you may have regarding your situation. When you leave the office, you will know exactly what your options are and, you will know what I can do to help you with your issues. Depending on the complexity of your case, more information may be needed as the case progresses but the uncomfortable part is over.

Stay away from the internet! Of course, there is a lot of good information online, but there is just as much bad information.  Most of the information online is very general.  Your issue is specific to you and the facts of your case are unique, as no two cases are ever exactly alike.  Also, remember that information provided online is not necessarily Alabama law specific, and that's very important to remember.  Many times clients come into my office after researching online only to be told that their "research" is great if they lived in California or Michigan.  Also, internet chat groups or boards can be very misleading.  Those who discuss their terrible outcomes are most likely leaving out the bad facts of their case.

 Communicating with Our Office 

  1. Read everything you receive from our office. After reading the correspondence, please make note of any court dates for which you need to attend. Also, please make note of anything that you have questions about and call the office for further clarification or, to set an appointment.
  2. Tell us what we need to know.  Keep a diary, journal, or notebook.  We cannot help you if you do not tell us all the facts.  If you are nervous, embarrassed or forgetful, perhaps it is just best to write it all down.  I’d rather you write it down then guess about dates and times. 
  3. When it comes to children and appointments, please arrange for childcare.  I understand it’s not always easy to do so, as I have children too; but, I can be flexible with appointment times.  It is advisable not to involve children in any legal proceeding unless they are charged with a crime, as it causes severe anxiety. There may be a time that I may need to meet with a child, and in those cases, I will discuss that with you in advance.
  4. If problems or questions arise, call the office and clearly state the issue. Hopefully, there will be an immediate solution or answer, or arrangements will be made to get back to you.  Do not call and leave a message such as “urgent” or “very important” or “must talk to you.”  This is futile, time-consuming, and non-productive.  If you find yourself calling frequently, you may want to list your questions and save several for one call. 
  5. Communicating with my Legal Assistant.  She is not an attorney and cannot by law give legal advice. Please do not ask her to give her opinion of your situation.  As this will frustrate the both of you. She will however, strive to do her very best to help you by listening, scheduling an appointment for you and by asking questions in order to narrow the issue.  She can discuss office policies, give you phone numbers, and convey any updates on your case.  If I have not called you back as soon as you would have liked, please do not become frustrated with her or anyone who may answer your call.  This is my fault, as I receive all messages*, but return calls to those who need priority first, then begin to return all other calls. Please know that all contact with the office is documented.  Generally, I will not return calls from client's family members or friends.  Your business is not theirs; however, upon your written consent, I will provide court dates and times to a family member. *If your call has not been returned by someone in my office within 24 hours, you may certainly call again. 
  6. Student Intern/Runner/Office Assistant.  I do occasionally employ part-time assistants. 
  7. Issues with the Office.  If you have concerns about anything regarding the office, hours, policies, etc...please do not hesitate to bring it to my attention.  If there is something I can change to better accomodate you, I will certainly entertain any constructive ideas.


Gabrielle N. Helix
Attorney At Law

2117 Whitesburg Drive
Huntsville, AL 35801

T: 256.489.0595
F: 256.489.0596

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers