When someone’s looking to retain or work with an attorney, at some point they are going to have to trust their attorney and have faith in them. Most people don’t know many of the aspects of the law, and they’re not going to understand the burdens of proof and the possibilities of what may occur should they move forward in certain situations. Therefore, you’re going to have to rely upon your attorney.
Another expectation that you should have with your attorney is communication. You should feel comfortable communicating with your attorney. It is important that your attorney is someone who is not talking over your head or not answering your questions. They need to be someone who is addressing your concerns and issues. Many times, I tell clients that they’re not really afraid of the dark. They’re afraid of the unknown. When a legal matter arises, most people are the same way. They’re not as afraid of the process once they understand it, but if they don’t know what the process is, they struggle.
Usually, in all aspects, whether it be a criminal, family, or injury matter, the unknown can weigh heavy on people, and it’s emotional. In family cases particularly, you’ll want to try to pull those emotions out as best as possible. I believe you should try to get a lawyer who is resolution-oriented. They should always be moving forward and trying to reach their ultimate goal. If a party is getting divorced, it is far better to work together, if possible. The process goes smoother if they can reach a resolution and move forward than spend a great deal of time fighting in litigation.
I’ve always found that litigation is a poor tool for communication. People don’t communicate much when they are litigating because lines are drawn in the sand and it’s a battle. Thus, you should let your lawyer set reasonable expectations of what the outcome of your legal matter might be. Regardless of the kind of case, there are very few cases that do not have some issues. Most cases have one, two, or ten issues, but you need to understand what reasonable expectations to have. Many times, in family matters, one parent will come in and list all of the things they want. I know right off the bat that they’re not going to get there. There’s no way. And so, I sit with them in an unemotional business-like manner and explain it to them. Some lawyers play off of that, but can certainly instigate a great deal of litigation. Allowing a lawyer to set your expectations and understanding them will help you get through any legal matter in a better fashion.
In the legal world, there are a lot of concepts that must be understood to have a chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. For instance, there is burden of proof, witnesses, trials, hearings, rules, and motions. Those are terms that lawyers throw around on a regular basis. If you do not work within the profession, as most clients do not, you need to have some understanding of what these terms and concepts mean. When a lawyer begins to work on a case, it typically has consequences. There could also be charges. Therefore, it is essential to understand why we’re doing something rather than just doing it.
By comprehending, you will reap the benefits. For example, many firms charge by the hour for family law cases. Understanding the costs against the benefits and the goals helps put everything into perspective. Many times, it’s very difficult for a lawyer to determine what the cost of a legal matter is going to be. Now, if it’s a personal injury case, most of those are done on a contingency fee. On a contingency fee, the attorney’s fee is contingent upon what he or she recovers. Many hourly cases, such as personal injury defense matters are based by the hour. Clients are charged by the hour. In regard to family matters, clients are charged by the hour and a retainer. For every hour that a lawyer does the work, the client owes that amount of money. And so, comparing what that may cost you to the benefit and the goal of a favorable result, it begins to set things up.
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