The attorney-client relationship is one that you’ve likely not encountered before. Hiring an attorney is almost like dating. You meet the attorney, ask yourself if you can see yourself working with them, you decide whether or not to trust them, go on to have another meeting, and you (at least try to) stick with that same attorney until the end. However, oftentimes your Family Law case is your first time having direct involvement with an attorney. To make the best of that relationship, it is vital that the client follow these set of rules:
- Tell your attorney the truth. Don’t leave out facts because it is embarrassing or because you fear being judged. It is likely that the other side will surprise your attorney with the information that you are hiding, which harms your case.
- Trust your attorney. Your attorney is like the driver, you are the passenger that gets to decide the destination. Your attorney will work with you to determine the best route to take, however, remember that your attorney, if chosen well, is experienced. Trust is key.
- Provide your attorney with any relevant and material documentation that helps to prove your case.
- Contact the Judge directly.
- Contact your spouse’s attorney directly if you have an attorney. Only your attorney should have contact with your spouse’s attorney.
- Sign any legal document that you do not fully understand or approve.
- Post anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t feel comfortable letting your grandmother read. In other words, don’t use social media to incriminate yourself.
- You should conduct discovery to gain valuable information from your spouse.
- You have to hire an expert. If you have complex property issues, speak with your attorney about hiring an expert.
- You’ll need to use witnesses to help your case. If there is any person that has direct and personal knowledge of a material fact then they should testify on your behalf. It is not required that you have any witness, besides yourself.
How Clients Like To Be Treated?
I have a unique approach in handling my clients’ cases based on our experience with representing over thousands of clients like you. Clients typically like for his or her case to be handled as follows:
Direct Contact with the Lead Attorney, not just staff:
You deserve direct and frequent communication with your attorney, not just staff. As attorneys practices grow, the usual reaction is to hire more staff. I’ve been guilty of the same thing in earlier years. The problem with this approach is attorneys get isolated from clients, and spend most of their time managing their staff (at the client’s expense). I’ve now structured our offices so that you will be dealing with an attorney on almost all matters, not an employee of the attorney.
Fearless Use of the Court System:
Many attorneys fail to use the court system to their client’s advantage. This means that many will shy away from a court hearing, and try to convince their clients to settle when a better outcome is likely in court. The reason for this is that a court hearing is stressful for the attorney, difficult to predict, and may expose the attorney’s limitations. I won’t pressure you into a bad settlement – in fact, I’ve often found that my clients get a better outcome when we head to Court.
The Truth, even when it hurts:
Attorneys, like everyone, have a tendency to tell people what they want to hear. This is especially true at the beginning of representation. I don’t think this is helpful to clients, and in fact, it harms a client’s case. You will get the truth – good or bad – from us at all times.
The most difficult time you will ever have making the right decisions is in the middle of a family law dispute. Many clients either want to rush things and get done or want to avoid conflict with the other side. We are not shy about telling our clients what we think they need to do, whether they want to hear it or not. Of course, what to do is up to our clients, but they never lack for strong, helpful guidance.