Now, more than ever, we are all looking for value in the products and services we use. Why should this not apply to our lawyers as well? I am not suggesting you hire an inexpensive attorney, instead I am saying you must take the initiative to make sure you get the most value of your lawyer for the money you spend. Unlike many products and services you are used to, hiring a lawyer means that you, the client, have to do your fair share of the work in order for the outcome to be successful and laden with value. Hopefully you have already done your research and have hired a lawyer that is suited for both you and the legal work you need done. This is essential for the following tips to prove successful in getting the most out of your lawyer.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – As in any successful relationship, the lines of communication have to be open and honest. Communication entails everything from you communicating your expectations to your lawyer to providing your lawyer with the appropriate documents regarding your case. In order for your lawyer to do his or her job efficiently you must communicate with him or her. Below is a list of essential communications, but is in no way comprehensive. Always look for more ways to have open communication to enhance the relationship between you and your lawyer.
- Tell your lawyer all the facts related to your case from the start and do not lie or omit information. If you are unsure whether something is relevant, share it with your lawyer and let him or her decide. Sharing all relevant facts will save time in the end and give your lawyer the information he or she needs to help you.
- Set clear expectations on what you are hoping to achieve as well as what you are expecting from your lawyer. Remember to ask if your lawyer has any expectations of you. Setting expectations from the beginning will allow your lawyer and you to be proactive in dealing with possible issues, saving time and money.
- Provide all documents your lawyer requests from you in a timely fashion. By being slow to respond to your attorney’s request, you will create frustration as your lawyer cannot do his or her job because of your procrastination. It will also cost you more money as they are charging you for their time, so do your best not to waste it.
- Listen and ask questions. You must listen to what your lawyer needs from you, as well as listen closely to the course of action your lawyer is advising or the advice he or she is offering. This way you are informed and able to ask appropriate questions and this will ensure that you are comfortable with the course your lawyer has laid out. If you are not comfortable with the plan as it is, do not be afraid to discuss this with your lawyer; however, do not go against your lawyer’s advice without good cause.
- Get Organized – Before going to your lawyer, have all of the relevant documentation for your case in order. Weed out irrelevant information so that your lawyer does not have to spend time sorting through it. It will be advantageous to write down the things you want to share with your lawyer. This will assist you in organizing your thoughts and help to ensure that you do not leave out any important information. By being organized, it will also help you to get information to your lawyer on time and keep your lawyer from having to do last minute preparations.
- Be Considerate – After all, lawyers are people and they respond best to individuals who are considerate of their time and space. Therefore, avoid calling your lawyer after office hours unless it is a genuine emergency, do give him or her the appropriate time to finish a task or return a phone call or email before following up, and do respond to your lawyer’s correspondences quickly. These actions will show that you not only value your lawyer’s time, but him or her as well. By being considerate of your lawyer’s needs, you are likely to receive better service.
- Pay on Time – If you want your lawyer to continue working hard for you, be prompt in paying for the services you have received. You would not continue working for someone who was not paying you, so do not expect your lawyer to either. If you do not understand your bill or have questions, make sure to discuss this with your lawyer. However, being informed in advance on how your lawyer will bill and the payment process will make for fewer surprises on your bill and create less frustration for both you and your lawyer.
In the end, in order for you to get the most value out of your lawyer, you have to be a great client. Great clients know that while their lawyer is a good tool in helping with a legal issue, the client plays a very large role in the success of their lawyer. So get involved, be informed, and be an active participant in your legal issue.