We all aspire to be successful — in business, in our families, as competitors and as citizens. Yet the playing field in each of these (and many other) realms is often bound by laws and regulations. Therefore, accomplishment and advancement must be achieved fairly and in good order. Attorneys help us to navigate the local ordinances, state statutes and federal regulations that govern how life is lived. Advising us in transactions and representing us before courts, lawyers can be invaluable associates and trustworthy friends. To make and keep them so, it is best to follow certain established rules of thumb.
Do Your Homework Before Hiring
Nobody should find a lawyer through trial and error. Research helps you to filter out those who are definitely not worth the money. A good starting point is the state or local bar association. If a prospect is licensed and in good standing, the bar association will tell you. If he or she was ever suspended, fined or disbarred, the staff will know. This inquiry might require a telephone call or, more conveniently, can be performed online. Even more telling is word of mouth. After all, a lawyer can be honest yet entirely ineffectual. Only the testimonies of those that have retained–or faced–an attorney give an accurate assessment of talent and aptitude.
Ask Questions During an Initial Consultation
Lots of them. Of course, there are boundaries that should not be crossed. Yet when it comes to professional practice, trial strategy, knowledge of statutes and case law, as well as education and experience, new clients should go into as much depth as possible. Not only will you learn about this practioner from the content of answers, the tone and body language can speak volumes too. A lawyer who gets defensive, hems and haws, shifts uncomfortably or filibusters the questions is not a professional interested in you as a client to be served, but more as a customer to be sold.
Be Brutally Honest No Matter How Embarrassing the Subject
Once satisfied with the lawyer’s trustworthiness, you must then trust him or her. An attorney without a knowledge of the truth is an attorney disarmed in court or in business. Surprises will undermine your lawyer’s ability to look after your interests, whether in a trial or in negotiations. They also mar the counselor’s professional image and reputation. True, many legal matters touch on personal issues that clients would rather bury, never to see the light of day. While this attitude is understandable, it is nevertheless dangerous. An alibi must be verifiable, for example. If it is fabricated to cover an extra-marital affair, it hurts both lawyer and client to assert it.
Do Not Second Guess Your Attorney
This does not mean you never question his or her advice or follow with blind faith. Still, there are areas where constant carping negatively affects legal performance, You spent many hours sifting through counselors to find the right one. This was time wasted if you are going to act as your own lawyer. So, when it comes to courtroom procedure, line of questioning or what issues are non-negotiable, there is a time and place for the client to inform the legal advocate of his or her wishes. In the heat of battle, though, the attorney needs some space to make professional judgments.
Talk About Financing in Advance
Some clients are so eager to retain a name lawyer that they do not count the cost. Like any servics, legal representation comes at a price, i.e. the dollar value a law practice places on its time. Often referred to as billable hours, time is spent by lawyers on clients’ behalf gathering relevant facts; researching statutes and applicable case law; speaking to opposing attorneys in person or over the phone; and filing the appropriate documents with the courts. An established practitioner will receive a healthy fee per hour for this work.Furthermore, there are occasions when the hours might add up: new information comes to light; testimony is recanted; contractual terms are changed, etc. New developments demand more billable hours. Clients should talk payments and fees upfront with their lawyers. It precludes bad blood and having to abort a legal proceeding midstream.
Keep Business and Social Relationships Separate
Those who employ the same attorney on a regular basis may form a friendship or personal attachment. This is not a strange development for people who work together. However, personal bonds can obstruct a client’s objective evaluation of the lawyer’s representation. Likewise, they can make the counselor a little too comfortable and less attentive in serving the client. Perhaps an expectation of lower fees becomes implicit in the friendship. Make sure that the business association remains on the same terms as it was at the outset. Similarly, try to keep the conversation on kids and golf during social interactions.
Be Meticulous About Documentation
A lawyer is an officer of the court. If courts like documentary evidence in order to render a judgment, lawyers will take all they can get. It helps when clients are organized, maintain orderly business records and make memoranda (or keep minutes) of every business meeting, no matter how short. This saves the attorney time–and the client money–spent trying to reconstruct events based on memory. It also allows for a stronger argument before a judge.
There are some exceptional practitioners working on commercial law Brisbane. Yet for all of the education they receive and experience they gain, attorneys do a better job when their clients cooperate with them. In the end, the lawyer acts in the client’s stead. It is not the legal advocate being sued or serving as party to a contract. The impacted parties get better legal service when they answer the lawyers’ calls; promptly supply documentation; give the counselor sufficient latitude; and keep the relationship on a professional plane. It all starts with finding the right attorney for the task at hand.