What Should a Good Client Do?
When involved in a legal proceeding, you want to increase your likelihood of success as much as possible. One way to do that is to be a good client, which includes –
- Don’t Wait to Hire an Attorney. One of the worst things you can do to your own case is to fail to hire counsel until the last minute. It’s a natural feeling to hope that legal problems will resolve on their own. However, there may be important deadlines or statutes of limitation that must be met in order to protect a client’s rights. Also, many attorneys are reluctant to get involved in a case that has a pressing deadline. Thus, you may have difficulty finding a good attorney the further it is from the event that triggered the need. If an attorney does take your case at the last minute, he or she probably will face challenges to properly preparing and advocating your position.
- Don’t Fudge on the Truth. Opposing parties have a right to investigate the facts of any claim. During the investigation or discovery phase of a case, the truth usually does reveal itself. If you have failed to disclose something significant in your case or been dishonest in the facts, your attorney will be blindsided when the truth comes out. It is better to explain the facts up front to your attorney because then you and he can best devise a strategy to deal with the information. Moreover, if it is established that your testimony was untruthful, a presumption may arise that everything else you said is untrue as well.
- Don’t Go AWOL. Even if it appears that not much is currently pressing with your case, your attorney has to be able to get in touch with you. If you move or change telephone numbers, let the law office know how to get in touch with you. Your case could be seriously jeopardized if you are not available to weigh in on critical decisions, or if you miss an important court date.
- Be Respectful. Like any business relationship, it is important to treat others with respect. While you should expect your attorney to devote time and attention to your case, a good attorney has more than one case. He or she will be working on other matters that may, at various times, have priority over yours. Calling repeatedly or demanding daily attention will get you noticed, but not in a good way. Also, don’t expect the attorney or staff to alter office procedures to accommodate your demands. Office procedures are usually set-up to ensure a professional handling of your case. If you demand that a secretary or paralegal rush a decision or process, you may end up getting less value. The fastest route is not always the best route.
- Be Prepared. A good client shows up for meetings with the material requested and well organized. Research dates and timelines so you can accurately provide helpful information. Keep necessary or important paperwork organized into folders for easy access. Show up on time to meetings and court appointments, educate yourself on the case, and prepare questions ahead of time for your attorney to answer.