24 Tips: Getting the Most Out of Your Lawyer
(1) Tell the truth. Everything you say to a lawyer or law firm is private, secret and confidential. Your lawyer can't properly advise or represent you unless you tell the truth.
(2) Listen to your lawyer. Even if it's advice or information you don't want to hear, your lawyer knows the law and how it's likely to be applied to your facts and your case.
(3) Answer questions directly. Your lawyer needs detailed information and direct answers to questions to best help you.
(4) Ask questions. You need to understand what the law in your case is, and what your lawyer is telling you. You also need to know what you and your lawyer are going to do next.
(5) Ask more about "what is," and less about "what if". Your lawyer needs to focus on things that have happened and are happening, and not on things that may or may not happen.
(6) Keep records. Letters, notices, contracts, leases, bills, receipts, court papers, and other documents about your case are very important to your lawyer.
(7) Stay organized. Your papers aren't useful unless you can find the ones you need and show them to your lawyer.
(8) Bring your records with you. If you come to legal aid, bring your papers. If you call legal aid, have your papers at hand and well organized when you call.
(9) Provide information and documents. If your lawyer asks you to get a specific record, it's important to your case and your lawyer needs it.
(10) Return phone calls from your lawyer. Your lawyer will make every effort to return your phone call within a day or two. You should do the same.
(11) Answer letters from your lawyer. Your lawyer will make every effort to answer your letter within a few days. You should do the same.
(12) Keep appointments. If something unexpected keeps you from an appointment, call in advance of the appointment to reschedule.
(13) Respect your lawyer's time. Your lawyer is busy, has many clients, and is on a tight time schedule. Your lawyer's time is not unlimited, so use your time with your lawyer wisely.
(14) Stay calm. No one asks for legal problems and very few people like dealing with them. However, very little gets done when you are stressed, anxious, worried or overly emotional.
(15) Stay focused. Your lawyer will concentrate on what's most important to you case and not concentrate on what's least important to your case. You should do the same.
(16) Be realistic in what you want. Most legal disputes end in a settlement. Although you may not get everything you want, neither will the other party.
(17) Be forward looking. Your lawyer can't help you change your past. Your lawyer can help you change your future.
(18) Be consistent in what you want. Once you decide what you want from a case, stick to it unless there is an extremely good reason to change.
(19) Be flexible in how to get what you want. There are many ways to get what you want from a case. Be willing to give up what's less important so you can get what's most important.
(20) Ask your lawyer before making a change. What you do in the future may affect your case. Ask before you make a change, not afterwards.
(21) Tell your lawyer about changes. You need to tell your lawyer about changes in address, phone number, income and assets, and about any developments in the case.
(22) At a hearing or a trial, listen and don't distract your lawyer. Your lawyer has to pay close attention to the witnesses, the judge and the other lawyers at trial. You should do the same.
(23) Trust your lawyer. You and your lawyer have a duty to work together as a team. Unless you and your lawyer agree otherwise, you shouldn't get a second opinion from another lawyer.
(24) Follow your lawyer's advice. Your lawyer works for you. Unless you follow your lawyer's advice, you won't get the best possible legal help.