I am waiting for my hearing date, so I can't help you with that part.
I met my attorney shortly after I called his office for the first time. We had a long meeting, and he took the time to get to know me and let me know what to expect. Since then, I have only dealt with his secretary - but she is always available, and quick to help me with any questions.
I hope my attorney and I are able to having a long meeting before my hearing. But, on the other hand, meeting 30 min. before the hearing might be good too. If my meeting is right before the hearing, I might be less likely to forget what he tells me.
Good luck with your hearing, and let us know how it goes!