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Talking to a Lawyer

Talking to a lawyer can be daunting – but it doesn’t have to be.  Keep in mind that the mission of your lawyer is to help you.  He or she will work with you to determine the best way to address your needs.  Being informed and prepared will go a long way in ensuring you make the most of his or her representation.

Once you have selected a lawyer, there are several steps you can follow to help maximize the quality and expediency of legal services being provided. Here are some:

  • Discuss fees. Ask the lawyer to explain how he/she will bill you and don’t be afraid to ask questions so you are clear on what you can expect (see the “Lawyer Fees” page for an explanation of various types of fee agreements.
  • Find out whether other lawyers will be working on your case.
  • Ask the lawyer what he/she will be doing and why.
  • Be honest and forthcoming with your lawyer; attorneys can't be expected to give you well- reasoned legal advice if the information you provide is faulty.  Tell your lawyer every fact that is relevant to the situation, even if it doesn't appear to be in your favor.
  • Have your lawyer analyze your case and give you both the positive and the negative aspects.
  • Take your lawyer's advice and have confidence in his or her special knowledge and skills.
  • Don't expect your attorney to give a simple answer to a complex question. Many legal problems cannot be explained simply. Be sure that you understand the technical language contained in wills, contracts, leases, and so forth.
  • Keep your lawyer fully informed of any new developments that might affect your case.
  • Ask your lawyer to keep you informed about the progress of your suit or legal problem. The lawyer is retained to work for you.
  • Be skeptical of attorneys promising certain results. Airtight cases just don't exist.
  • Request copies of all letters and documents prepared on your behalf.
  • Don't sign any document or paper until you fully understand what you are signing.