When working with an attorney, there are certain things you should keep in mind and different ways to approach the attorney-client relationship.
Ways to Work With an Attorney
For starters, before getting to our tips on how to work with an attorney, let's discuss a few different ways that your lawyer can be involved in your lawsuit or personal injury claim:
- Attorney as Advisor Only - You may choose to hire an attorney as your legal advisor in a case you are handling yourself. While this may be one of the most cost-effective ways to seek legal counsel, it requires a lot of work on your behalf and many attorneys may not even be interested in working in this capacity.
- Supporting your Attorney by Compiling Information - It helps in certain cases to volunteer to take on certain tasks to support work on your case. There are many tasks involved in the case which do not require specialized legal training compiling information, researching regulations or policy, etc. This may help advance your case and keep you involved with the process.
- Traditional Attorney/Client Relationship - Often the misconception about this role is that the client explains the problem and the attorney does all the work without regard for finances or consultation to win the case. It is important to outline details of your expectations of your attorney on consultations and decision making.
Tips for Working With an Attorney
Since most people opt for the traditional relationship with their attorney, it's most important to understand how to work with a lawyer in a traditional lawyer-client scenario.
With that in mind, here are some good tips for working with an attorney.
- Be Organized - Your personal injury attorney will appreciate it if you are well organized and are able to quickly provide them with all the important details associated with your case.
- Be Honest - Play it straight with your personal injury lawyer. Honesty is the foundation of a good working relationship. Lie to your attorney and you'll put your entire case at risk. It's not just about telling the truth in what you say. It's also about what you don't say. Don't hold anything back. You need be sure to share everything with your attorney and not omit even minor facts from your discussions.
- Don't Be a Pain - Calling your attorney every half hour is a good way to drive your attorney crazy and minimize their ability to get you the results you deserve. Be considerate of your personal injury attorney's time. Rather than call every time you have a question, try waiting until you have four or five questions and then schedule a meeting to go over those questions.
- Don't Be Shy - While your attorney may not appreciate a client that calls too often, they'd rather have that than a client that never asks any questions. In order for your lawyer to help you, you need to fully understand all aspects of the legal process. If you don't understand something, speak up!
- Keep a Case File - Ask your attorney to provide you with copies of all letters and documents prepared on your behalf. You never know when you might need this information, so be sure to collect it as your case progresses. You should trust your lawyer to keep good records, but, just in case, it's best to keep your own records.
- Avoid Emotions When Making Legal Decisions - It's not unusual for a lawyer to give you advice you'd rather not hear. In that scenario, keep your emotions in check and ask pertinent questions such as "Why is that your recommendation?" and "What are the alternatives?" Listen objectively to their responses and then make a reasoned decision.
- Educate Yourself - Don't solely rely on your attorney to explain everything to you. There are some great books available on how to win a personal injury claim. This is a great investment, and your attorney will appreciate your showing that you are serious about winning your case.