Knowing how to effectively work with your lawyer is an important component that will aid in the final outcome of your case. Communication is the first priority. It’s important that you clearly define your goals for your case and explain them to your lawyer at the beginning. Simply put, when you hire a lawyer they should become your personal advisor and confidant…someone you turn to for help.
Another key component to the lawyer-client relationship: trust. Be upfront and honest and disclose all information. Remember that your lawyer can only give you advice based on the information he or she has at hand. They are the experts in the law, not you. If you don’t feel you can totally trust your lawyer, repair the relationship or (if that’s impossible) find a new lawyer. Napoleon Bonaparte has been credited as saying “I may forgive a general for being defeated, but never for being surprised.” Take those words to heart. Don’t let your lawyer become surprised and find out information from sources other than you!
Now it’s time for some decision-making and to develop a plan to proceed. Remember why you decided to hire a lawyer in the first place – because they’re the professional and will know how to develop and perform the strategies towards a successful outcome of your case. Don’t undercut your lawyer’s strategy by making decisions based on emotion only. Listen to your lawyer and make every effort to understand her strategy. And, if you don’t understand, ask the necessary questions so that you can.
To recap, working with your lawyer should be a seamless flow of conversations and actions. Here are a few simple steps that will pay off!
Hire Early. Hire your attorney early on and definitely before you have started any communications or negotiations with the other side. Don’t risk making the wrong decisions and then expect your lawyer to come in after the fact and fix it. Rushing into any agreements or making early statements without the advice of your lawyer can be a huge mistake.
Full Disclosure. Disclose all information and let your lawyer decide if the information is important or not. Remember that even the smallest of details can completely alter your case and could even mean the difference between winning or losing. Don’t be shy or feel embarrassed by some of the information as your lawyer is not there to judge you – she’s there to help you.
Advice. If your lawyer gives you advice, take it!! Again this all goes back to trust. You must have trust in your lawyer. After all, you decided to hire a lawyer, your lawyer’s job is to protect you, their client. Don’t expect her to tell you what you want to hear. Do expect her to tell you what you need to know to win.