Posted on Saturday, April 25, 2009
Always be clear with your attorney about what YOUR responsibilities are. And rememeber it is up to YOU not him or her to follow up. If you dont not keep on top of him you have no one to blame but yourself. Ask if there are any tasks you would be involved in, and what your role in decision making would be. Most clients make the mistake of expecting the lawyer to initiate communication with them and most lawyers intend to do so and desire having a well informed client. But without a formal structure, it will not happen.
Understand that initiating communication is your responsibility and do not expect to be able to accomplish it by telephone. Many lawyers are frequently out of the office, appearing in court or taking depositions. Busy lawyers do not remain in their offices all day. Court appearances, arguing motions, interviewing witnesses, taking depositions into the dinner hour, traveling to meetings outside the office, attending continuing education programs and bar meetings are common. They will routinely not be there to accept a random call and may not be able to call you back when you will be available. Telephone tag does not accomplish your goal of being informed.
Be sure that you talk about the best ways to keep each other updated. Telephones do not work nearly as well as regular face-to-face meetings or scheduled telephone conferences. Plan on follow-up meetings with your lawyer at agreed upon times, perhaps every 30 days at first and thereafter as needed. Ask for copies of correspondence and documents filed in court. If you do not understand what they mean, save those questions for your next meeting. You must stay informed, but you do not want to abuse your welcome, even though you may be very anxious about your case.
Consider your lawyer in the same manner as you do your doctor. After you see a physician it is common for him or her to order tests, prescribe medication or to take some other action, but always you are asked to come back in a certain period of time. The doctor does not make the appointment. You do. Follow the same practice with your lawyer and arrange for follow-up meetings. One of the best ways to do this is by scheduling telephone conferences. Ask the lawyer, legal secretary or other person responsible for scheduling to set a meeting by phone when the lawyer expects to be in the office. This will help you avoid telephone tag and increases the probability of a successful exchange of information.