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Effectively Communicating With Your Attorney

Aug 17, 2007
Anyone who has hired an attorney for legal representation is entitled to frequent communication and status reports. Every client deserves to know where the case is headed and get an update on the attorney's progress, or lack of it. If you are thinking about retaining a lawyer, or already have one, here are a few pointers about what to expect from or initiate with your legal counselor.

1. Clients should receive status reports on case developments. Any action that your attorney takes on your behalf should be discussed with you beforehand and afterward. You need to know how the case is being processed, and the means your attorney is using to accomplish client goals. Pleadings, hearings, pre-trials, and trial preparation, along with required due-dates, are just some of the matters that clients need to know about. If your attorney does not inform you of these things in a timely manner, ask for periodic updates so you can keep abreast of case developments.

2. You should receive a return call from your attorney when you leave a message. Most legal representatives hire competent secretaries or assistants to handle phone calls and relay messages from clients. Assuming that your lawyer is in town and not involved in a major trial, he or she ought to be able to return your call within a day or two. If you are calling and leaving several messages that seldom bring a response, your attorney is not doing a good job. If there is a head of the firm, you might want to get in touch with that person to explain your dissatisfaction.

3. Most people can be reached in a variety of ways, including cell phone, fax, landline, email, and post. Tell your attorney which method you prefer, and provide one or more alternate means of contact in case the first should fail for some reason. Ask for the same information from your lawyer so that if you need to get in touch, you will be able to do so in more than one way.

4. Use a message system. Either set up a voice mail recorder on your home phone or utilize one at work or on your cell phone. Ask your lawyer that if he or she is unavailable, whether you can leave messages with the secretary or in a voice message box. Sometimes direct contact is impossible, but messages can relay information on a temporary basis.

5. Expect routine communication. If you are not hearing from your attorney on a monthly basis, at least, while he or she is managing an active case for you, request monthly updates in writing or by phone. You can even offer to call in for them if that will make the lawyer's job easier. The important thing is that you stay connected so the two of you can do a better job of working for a positive outcome to your legal case. If your lawyer does not contact you, be sure and get in touch with him or her.
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