So you’ve hired a lawyer, now what? Whether you’ve been injured in an accident through no fault of your own, are facing serious criminal charges, or need assistance with a family law or other transactional matter, you’d probably like to see your legal issues resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible.
After you’ve had your initial consultation and discussed the particulars of your case with your attorney, you both have some responsibilities to make sure that your case continues to move in the right direction. Just what is required of each of you and how do you stay on top of your case after you hire a lawyer?
What Can I Expect from My Lawyer?
Once you’ve hired a lawyer, you can expect thorough and competent legal representation. This means that your lawyer has the training, knowledge, and skills necessary to effectively work on your case. Nearly everything you tell your lawyer is said in confidence. This is referred to as attorney-client privilege. This means that your lawyer cannot share information that you’ve given them unless you agree in advance. The exceptions to this include:
- Your lawyer must share information you provide that could prevent certain bodily harm or death to another person.
- Your lawyer may share information that prevents you from committing a crime.
- Your lawyer may share information that corrects, limits, or prevents serious injury to someone else’s property or financial interests if you’ve involved the lawyer in the fraud or crime that you committed.
Your attorney also has a responsibility to give you information about the status of your case. Some of the things you can expect as your case progresses include:
- Receiving legal advice, including an explanation of the consequences of any decisions
- Copies of court documents and relevant letters upon request
- An explanation of legal terms, including the nature of your confidential relationship
- Following basic decisions made on the direction of the case
- Notification of any and all settlement offers or other matters pertaining to negotiations
Tips for Working with a Lawyer
What many legal clients fail to realize is that the relationship they have with their attorney is a two-way street, meaning there is some legwork required on your end as well. Just as your attorney has a duty to pass on relevant information to you, it’s vital that you do the same for the sake of your case. When you develop a good working relationship with your lawyer, your chances of a favorable case outcome increase significantly. Some of the steps you can take to work as effectively as possible with your attorney include:
- Gather requested information. One of the most useful things you can do for your case and your attorney is to gather the records that they request as quickly as possible. This may include copies of medical or property records and a detailed personal account of the issue.
- Do what is asked. Not doing certain things could have a negative impact on your case. This includes failing to show up for medical exams or depositions. When your lawyer asks you to do something, there is probably a good reason.
- Respond to your lawyer’s requests. Most lawsuits, insurance claims, and contracts have time constraints, and missing deadlines could jeopardize your case. If your lawyer needs to speak to you about your case, respond to them as quickly as possible.
- Communicate your schedule. You may be called to participate in certain mandatory meetings, such as depositions or court hearings. If you have a rigid work schedule or have plans to be out of town, let your attorney know in advance.
- Ask for clarification. Not all of us are comfortable with legal jargon. If you aren’t sure about a term or how something applies to your case, don’t be afraid to ask.
- Be honest. It’s going to be difficult at best for your attorney to help you if you aren’t completely honest. The more facts they know about your circumstance, the better prepared they will be to deal with them and possibly formulate the right defenses. Don’t hold anything back.
Hiring a lawyer is a necessity when it comes to a variety of business matters, personal injury situations, and other serious issues. But, like everything else, the results of your case will depend on its circumstances as well as the quality of the working relationship you develop with your attorney.
At Garmo & Garmo, LLP, we take pride in delivering results to our clients, which we can do by viewing each case by its own unique merits. Every client has a story to tell, and we are anxious to hear yours. Contact our El Cajon office now at (619) 441-2500 or online for a free consultation.