Working With Your Lawyer
A lawyer-client relationship is built on trust. The client must be able to trust the lawyer and the lawyer must also be able to trust the client. We understand that clients do not like surprises when it comes to their legal affairs. We will do our best to earn your trust by doing the job on time, effectively, and in a cost-efficient manner. We will do our best to return your telephone calls and e-mails promptly and keep our scheduled appointments. We will always give you an honest assessment of your case (including your chances of success and the approximate costs involved).
While we must earn your trust, the lawyer must also be able to trust you if he is going to be able to do the best job possible. In order to ensure a good working relationship with your lawyer, we would ask you to consider the following 10 guidelines:
- Never lie to your lawyer. Be sure to tell your lawyer the entire story and don’t leave anything out. There is nothing worse for a lawyer than being “ambushed” unexpectedly at the last minute with a piece of information that the client did not disclose. Not only will this damage the client’s case, but it will severely tarnish the lawyer’s ability to trust the client. All communications between the client and the lawyer are protected by the confidentiality of solicitor & client privilege from the time you first contact us. So, please remember to tell your lawyer the entire truthful story. Even if the information you provide to us could harm your case, your lawyer must know about it in order to prepare defensive maneuvers.
- Be on time for your appointments. As lawyers, all we have to sell is our time. If you don’t keep your appointments with us, we have lost the ability to sell that time. This will produce frustration for the lawyer and will damage the lawyer-client relationship. Of course there are emergency situations that arise and the lawyer will be understanding in those rare occasions. However, barring an emergency, we ask that you keep your appointments or provide no less than 24 hours’ notice of cancellation.
- Be patient and understanding of your lawyer’s time constraints. There is a reason why your lawyer may not be able to answer your calls or e-mails right away. Most litigation lawyers spend the majority of their day in court. Whatever time is left over is typically spent in lawyer-client meetings. This leaves your lawyer only the evenings to draft your court documents, prepare for court, and return telephone calls and e-mails. Understanding this will result in a better lawyer-client relationship. Nevertheless, our lawyers will make every effort to return your telephone calls and e-mails in a timely manner (usually within 24 hours).
- Do not bring children to lawyer-client meetings or to court. This rule is especially important in family law cases but applies equally to all matters. We understand that it is not always easy to find child care. However, lawyer-client meetings and court appearances can often go on for many hours and we cannot provide our clients with child care services. In addition, our lawyers believe strongly that children should not be aware of the adult conflict that is transpiring. Bringing children to the lawyers’ office or to court is therefore not in the best interests of children and is to be avoided.
- Be honest with your lawyer about your ability to pay. Our lawyers are very conscious about the cost of legal services. We understand that clients come to us needing and wanting our services but, often times, are not able to afford them. If you would like legal assistance but are uncertain about your ability to pay, then please discuss this openly with your lawyer. There are often different fee structures that we can use to help you out financially.
- Keep your lawyer informed. Please be sure to tell us everything that could be relevant to your case. Give us any and all documentation that could be important. If you aren’t sure whether a particular fact or document is important, err on the side of full disclosure. Your lawyer is trained to comb through all the information and documentation you provide and determine what is relevant.
- Keep your lawyer updated if you move or change your telephone number. As lawyers, we are always surprised when a client moves or changes their telephone number without notifying us. Doing so will cause frustration for the lawyer (especially if we need to contact you urgently to get instructions). This situation will damage the lawyer-client relationship. If your lawyer cannot reach you, then he/she may have no choice but to remove himself as your solicitor.
- Keep your lawyer apprised of your schedule. As one of the parties to a law suit, there are often times when your participation is required. These events are scheduled weeks or months in advance. Your lawyer (and the court) will do what is required to accommodate your personal schedule if we know when you will or will not be available. It is therefore important for you to let your lawyer know when you will be out of town or otherwise unavailable. However, you must still be prepared to change your plans as a judge might insist on holding an important event on a particular date, regardless of your availability.
- Follow your lawyer’s advice and instructions. We want what is best for you and your family. However, we cannot achieve this without your help. It is imperative that you listen carefully to, and follow your lawyer’s advice and instructions. Failure to do so will significantly reduce your chances of success and will ultimately damage the lawyer-client relationship.
- Understand and accept the limitations of your case. Very early on, your lawyer will assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case and should give you an opinion as to your chances of success. It is crucial for you to accept what your lawyer says. Unreasonable expectations are a recipe for disaster in any court case as the client is sure to be disappointed at some point in the future. Listen to what your lawyer says, understand your lawyer’s assessment of your case (including its strengths and weaknesses and your chances of success) and accept the limitations of your case. Doing so will help significantly in achieving a fast and fair resolution of the issues with the least possible cost.