Frequently Asked Questions* - General


The expression that first impressions count definitely applies to court appearances, where a minimum of "business casual" dress is the norm. This means leaving tank tops, t-shirts, ball caps, ripped or stained clothing, shorts, and flip flops at home. More formal attire is recommended for trial (think "job interview"). Men should wear a dress shirt or suit and tie and women either a professional-looking pants suit or a workplace-appropriate dress. Neatly pressed, clean "casual dress" clothing is fine for traffic court and preliminary appearances (think "meeting the future in-laws for the first time"). If you are unsure whether your clothing is courtroom-appropriate, it is perfectly okay to call your attorney to ask for guidance.

DO bring a pad of paper/notebook and a pen to write down any important details you may need to remember.

DO bring any paperwork (traffic citation, paperwork) you may need for your court appearance.

DO bring your cell phone, but expect to have it set to mute or turned off while court is in session.

DO NOT bring weapons of any kind, including pocket knives and sharp instruments that could be used as a weapon (knitting needles, sewing scissors).

DO NOT chew gum in court.

DO NOT bring your camera, as most judges do not allow them.

Each judge has discretion over what is permitted in his or her courtroom, so be prepared to accommodate these preferences. If you wear a hat, a bailiff (officer of the court) or the judge will order you to remove it in the courtroom. Out of respect for the proceedings, some judges discourage reading books or magazines and texting or gaming while court is in session.

Plan on arriving at least 15 minutes early. Budget extra time to account for traffic or other delays, including the security checkpoint at the courthouse entrance. If you have an attorney, he or she may want to meet a few minutes early to go over the details of your case.

If you have one, call your attorney immediately. There are situations in which an attorney can appear on your behalf, but it is important to check with your counsel to be certain your presence is not required.

Attorney fees can vary widely depending upon practice area, region, and payment structure. There are three basic fee structures attorneys use:

Contingency - Common in personal injury and medical malpractice cases, contingency fees include up to one third of a judgment plus costs, due only if a settlement or judgment is made in your favor.

Flat Fee - Clients pay a fixed amount for a legal service, regardless of the hours your attorney spends on the case. Flat fees tend to be higher and are common for traffic, DUI, and criminal cases.

Hourly - Typical in family law cases, hourly rates can vary widely (the average hourly rate in McHenry County is $300 per hour). Hourly rates do not include additional direct costs, such as copies and filing fees.

Please contact our office for a free consultation about your specific situation.

*DISCLAIMER: The questions and answers presented on this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship.