Duty to Yourself: Being the Most Effective Client You Can Be

The relationship between a client and an attorney is an important one. You should only work with an attorney you are comfortable with and who you feel like you be open and honest with. Your attorney is, in many ways, your guide through the treacherous and complicated country of any legal proceeding, and the cartography of divorce and family law is less forgiving than many other types of cases.

The relationship, however, goes both ways. If you don’t think your attorney is guiding you well or doesn’t have the same destination in mind that you do, you might consider a new guide to help you along. But if you aren’t focused in the same way, your attorney is going to have a harder time protecting your interests and keeping your case on course. So here is a list of 5 things you can do as a client to help your attorney guide you and fight for you to the best of their abilities.

  1. Listen to Your Attorney

Presumably, you are paying your attorney for their time and attention and expect your attorney to listen to you and what you are saying. Similarly, you are also paying your attorney for their advice and guidance. It is in your best interests to listen to it. This might seem like a remarkably simple piece of advice, but you would be surprised how often a client’s failure to listen to their attorney leads to problems, especially when your attorney is trying to tell you about deadlines and requesting information.

  1. Respond Promptly

Most attorneys, including those at DiPietro Law, have a rule of responding to their clients within one business day, if not sooner. At the very least an attorney should be acknowledging your message and letting you know when they will be getting back to you as soon as possible. It is also important that, as a client, you hold yourself to a similar standard.

Your attorney understands that you are busy and that it is very likely that your case is only making your life more difficult and complicated, but your case, and your attorney, are governed by a set of deadlines and schedules that can’t afford to be missed. When your attorney is communicating with you, it is important that you respond in a timely fashion.

It also helps to tell your attorney if you are going to have trouble meeting an assigned or agreed to deadline ahead of time and they may be able to work something out with you. Waiting until after the deadline is passed is a good way to hurt your case.

  1. Think About Trial

When you are preparing for trial, it is important to remember that everything you do pending a case is under a microscope. Every time you communicate with the opposing party or anyone else you are making a statement that could be used against you at court. It might be stressful to live as if you are on camera but remember that Judges don’t always sympathize just because something was said in the heat of the moment. Along the same vein, they often don’t take kindly to obvious attempts at baiting opposing parties. Keep communications as short and civil as possible for anything regarding your case.

  1. If You Don’t Know, Ask

You should never, ever feel embarrassed to ask questions about what is going on with your case or what something means. This process can often be confusing to laymen, and it is your attorney’s obligation to make sure you know what is going on in your case as soon as reasonably possible.

Further, if you want to do something and are not sure how it would affect your case, reach out to your attorney. The same goes if your opposing party is taking actions you either don’t like or aren’t sure are acceptable. Before taking any rash actions or acting in the heat of the moment (see #3 above) talk to your attorney.

  1. Follow Up and Update

Your attorney is probably very busy on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean that they owe you any less than their absolute best work and attention. As stated, attorneys should be getting back to you within a certain reasonable time frame (probably discussed with you during your initial meetings with the attorney), but if you feel like part of your question wasn’t answered or maybe something was missed, follow up with your attorney to make sure.

It is also important to make sure your attorney knows when things happen or if there are any changes. While your attorney is hopefully very good at their job, they aren’t omniscient – if something changes in your case it is your responsibility to tell your attorney as soon as possible. Finding out major changes the day before trial or, worse, in front of the Judge, is a sure-fire way to hurt your attorney’s ability to adequately fight on your behalf.

DiPietro has a strong history of assisting clients and working with them to navigate the legal process, and with an engaged and active client, we have been able to excellent work on behalf of those who seek our help. If you need assistance in the fields of family law or estates, reach out to us today.