Any attorney will have to check for conflicts before becoming involved. In advising you on your matter, an attorney-client relationship will be established, and law firms have procedures under which that must take place. In most instances, the representation is for a fee, though there are cases where attorneys may take on such matters on a pro bono basis. The presence of third-parties while you are being advised can destroy the attorney-client privilege.
That said, to the extent you want general information about patents or other aspects of intellectual property at this stage, rather than advice specific to your situation, such information can be given ethically. There are so-called "ethics opinions" on this issue, and the issue essentially comes down to everyone understanding that only general information is being given, not information relating to your specific situation, and that there is clarity as to whether a legal representation is taking place. Lawyers are not precluded for providing general information in the type of setting you are contemplating, although even then my recommendation would be to do a conflicts check (maybe overly cautious by my reading of the rules, but nevertheless a good idea in my view).
For example, here is a DC Ethics Opinion on the matter. It is rather long, but you can see some of the constraints on lawyers. At one point, they also discuss the fact that lawyers are supposed to help non-lawyers understand legal issues (our role in educating the public generally).http://www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/ethics/legal_ethics/opinions/opinion316.cfm
I guess the upshot of this is that a lawyer can give you a general education of sorts on issues of IP law, but if you get to the point where you need specific guidance on your issue the you will be moving into an attorney-client relationship.