Relationships between persons can be difficult, and the relationship between a client and an attorney can be just as challenging. Cases can sometimes take years to resolve and can cost a client emotionally and financially. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the relationship between a lawyer and a client can become very strained. Developing a good working relationship can increase the potential of a positive outcome, can reduce the cost of litigation, and alleviate the client’s anxieties about the lawsuit.
There are certain things a good lawyer should do to help their client through the legal process. For example, your lawyer should keep you informed of milestones in the case. Also, your lawyer should include you in the decision-making process. As another example, your lawyer should prepare you for important events such as testifying in court or in a deposition.
The client’s role is as important as the lawyer’s role. Here are some tips on how you can help your lawyer advocate more effectively on your behalf.
Keep Your Lawyer Informed
First, keep your lawyer informed. From the beginning, tell your lawyer everything that might pertain to the dispute. Especially tell your lawyer those things that you believe are harmful to your case. Also, give your lawyer any documents or other items that might be part of the case even if you are unsure if the information is relevant. Lawyers are trained to sort through information and to decide what is useful or not.
Organize Facts, Events & Witness Information
Second, organize facts, events, and witness information. Write down important facts or a summary of events leading up to the lawsuit. Include timelines and the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and descriptions of the roles of any witnesses.
Promptly Respond to Your Lawyer
Third, promptly respond to your lawyer. In a lawsuit, the court’s procedural rules and the court itself impose very tight deadlines. The more time you give your lawyer to review your materials and information, the better your lawyer will be in preparing important legal papers and presenting your case in court. If you cannot respond quickly, let your lawyer know immediately so that the lawyer can try to get an extension of time from your opponent or the court. Remember that some deadlines, such as a statute of limitations, cannot be extended.
Inform Your Lawyer About Your Schedule
Fourth, inform your lawyer about your schedule. There are events in a lawsuit in which you must participate that are oftentimes scheduled weeks or months in advance. Sometimes there is little notice of the event. Either way, if the event must be postponed, your lawyer needs as much advance warning as possible. Remember, however, that the court may insist on moving forward regardless of your schedule.