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How to Avoid Problems With Your Lawyer

Jun 24, 2008
There are certain procedures and tips to follow when you hire a lawyer. The attorney is representing your issues but you still have rights and obligations. When you hire a lawyer, you expect professional legal advice and representation. In most cases, that's exactly what you receive. The majority of practicing lawyers want to help you whether you're seeking a judgment, defending your rights, or simply need legal guidance. Occasionally, you and your lawyer may have difficulty working together. Below, we'll describe how to manage the expectations you have of your attorney, how to prevent problems from emerging and when to pursue a fee arbitration hearing.

Managing Expectations

Your lawyer has a professional and legal duty to you. This includes providing you with a level of representation that employs every ethical means to support or defend you. You should also expect your lawyer to keep the things you mention to him private. Confidential matters should be kept confidential (barring circumstances in which a person's life is in danger). One of the most important expectations you should have of your lawyer is that he will allow you to make the decisions about your case. Whether you accept a settlement, a plea agreement, or other outcome should be left to your discretion.

Greasing The Chute

There's a lot you can do upfront that will help you avoid having a bad experience with your attorney. Many of the problems that clients have with their attorneys are due to their not taking measures ahead of time to smooth the relationship. First, you should have your lawyer provide you with written documentation that details both of your respective responsibilities along with the fees and expenses you should expect to pay.

Second, if you're moving forward with your lawyer on a contingency basis, have him give you a written agreement that shows the percentage he'll take provided a judgment is given in your favor. Third, ask questions. Ask your attorney to estimate how much time the case will require. Ask for updates, especially if circumstances arise that may cause a delay in your case. Many times, simple communication between you and your attorney can prevent the relationship from souring.

Pursuing Fee Arbitration

If the invoice your receive from your lawyer seems excessive, you may want to seek fee arbitration. Before you do, talk with your lawyer. In most cases, there's a good reason why his bill is higher than you expected. If, after discussing the invoice with him, you're still unsatisfied, you can have an arbitrator hear both sides of the case and issue a binding resolution.

The professional relationship that you experience with your attorney should be without major problems. After all, he's there to represent you during your case. Manage your expectations and take steps to ensure that you minimize the likelihood of issues surfacing. In the end, you're hiring a lawyer for his experience, training and expertise. A good relationship can build rapport and help you win your case.
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