TOP 10 THINGS YOUR LAWYER SHOULD BE DOING FOR YOU
Important tips for the average person who has not been to law school and does not understand (or care) how great a legal argument was made in court or what research was found that will help your case…
How can you measure whether you actually have a good lawyer?
My theory on practicing law is that it is a service based business. Most of that hinges on plain old fashion manners, politeness, and professionalism. These days so many attorneys are caught up in the arrogance of their title and position and forget who they are there to serve (our clients). Below is a list of 10 very simple (but often forgotten) things that your lawyer should be doing for
you as their client.
1- Return Your Calls and Emails
Lawyers are very busy and most days are spent either totally away from the office in court, or on the phone. One of the chief complaints from clients is that lawyers do not return calls. I will
admit, it can be difficult to return all the calls you may get in a day, especially if you are in court. However a lawyer’s time, attention and advice is what you ultimately are paying for, and the lawyer should be there for you. I used to have the goal of returning calls within 2 hours. Some days I can meet it, some I cannot. I would say a reasonable time to expect your lawyer, or their staff, to return your call or email is within 24 hours, even if just to set an appointment to have that phone conversation.
2- Personally Talk To You
I am always amazed at how many people I talk to that have gone through a divorce or other legal proceeding that say the only time they ever saw or talked to their lawyer was when they showed up to court. You hired the lawyer, didn’t you? Not the staff, paralegal, or receptionist. So your
attorney should take the time to personally address you. Plus, if you went in for brain surgery would you want the nurse performing the surgery?
3- Provide You With All Paperwork Going In and Out of the Office
You should be receiving copies of letters from the other party addressed to your attorney, letters from your attorney to anyone else, motions, any other paperwork that the opposing side filed, and
motions that your attorney has prepared on your behalf. This should occur for two reasons: One, this is part of the product that you have paid for and, therefore, I believe it is the client’s property. Two, if you are inclined to read it, you will better know what is going on in your case.
4- Listen To You
Since I am a family law attorney dealing mostly with sensitive and emotional issues, I get a lot of calls from clients who simply need to talk and need someone to listen and need to feel like
someone is invested in their cause. Your lawyer, by definition, is your own personal advocate, someone who will fight for you, so they should feel invested in your cause. If you don’t feel this way, then you and your lawyer may not be a good match.
5- Detailed Monthly Billing Statements
Lawyers are expensive and, at the very least, you should know exactly what you are paying for and you should know this regularly (i.e. monthly). If you receive a bill that has 3.0 hours at $ 300.00
per hour and the description simply says “research,” as a client that wouldn’t sit very well with me. On the other hand, given the same amount of time and rate but a description that was a paragraph
long that said “researched whether non-disclosure agreements can be broken under court order to determine severance pay and therefore use in child support calculation. Found statutes Business and Professions Code 1600, case law: In Re Marriage on Tong v. Sampson…” I would feel better about the amount of time and money that was spent on that task.
6- Know Your Case
I am always shocked and saddened when I am in court and the other attorney continues to reference “the children” when there is only one child, or addresses day care costs when the kids are 14 and 16. Your attorney should know the facts of your case! Maybe not the specific age of
each child but they should know how many children there are, and if they are toddlers, teenagers, etc.
7- Contact You Prior To Hearings To Ease Any Concerns
Lawyers are in court often and it becomes second nature to them and a very comfortable and familiar environment. We tend to forget that going to court can be very scary and nerve wracking for clients. Your attorney should be in contact with you prior to any hearings to simply touch bases with you, address any concerns or questions you may have, and give you an idea of what will happen procedurally.
8- Look Presentable In Court
This seems like a given but other attorneys never cease to amaze me! If you are getting paid hundreds of dollars an hour, you had better look like your worth it and leave the Crocs at home.
9- Provides Best and Worst Case Scenarios (Not Over-Promise)
I always tell my clients that going to court is like gambling. You truly never know what the result will be. We can predict how a certain judge feels about a certain issue, but truly you do not know what the judge will actually focus on or how they will rule on most issues. Therefore, you should go
into court knowing what the best possible outcome is and what the worst possible outcome is, this way you are prepared for either. The worst sitatuation is the person who has been promised a certain outcome and that outcome, to the client’s shock, is not delivered.
10- Know The Law Or Be Willing To Find It
A common misconception about lawyers and what we learn in law school is that we learn and know the law. Not true. What lawyers have is the skill of applying the law to the facts. Laws change all the
time. There is always new case law being created and new issues pop up every day. So if
your lawyer doesn’t know the specific case or statute that applies to an unusual element of your case, no problem. Finding the law is the easy part. Applying the law to the facts is what you are paying big bucks for. On the other hand, as for basic issues such as how child or spousal support is calculated or what the court will look for in deciding custody and visitation, your lawyer
should be well versed in the fundamental and basic issues of that particular field of law.
If the above is not being met by your current attorney, or if you are looking for legal representation that pledges to provide the above services, call Moore Family Law Group, a law practice where client
service is our priority. (951) 463-5594.
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