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Talking to a Lawyer

You can talk to more than one lawyer before deciding to hire someone. Write down what each lawyer tells you, and get a second opinion if you want. Discuss how the lawyer's proposed course of action will affect your future, and even ask what will happen if you don't hire a lawyer.

Ask the lawyer whether he/she has handled cases like yours before.

Find out whether other lawyers will be working on your case. Discuss fees. Ask the lawyer to explain how he/she will bill you for his/her work as well as any changes you do not understand. Understand your case. Ask the lawyer what he/she will be doing and why. STAY INFORMED about the progress of your case.

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

  • Be honest with your lawyer; tell the truth. An attorney 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; it isn't given off-the-cuff. Don't waste your money or your lawyer's time if you don't 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. Don't, however, challenge your lawyer on every sentence on every page.
  • Keep your lawyer fully informed of any new developments that might affect your case.
  • Don't badger your lawyer. Respect your attorney's time. Avoid phoning repeatedly about petty matters. Remember, a lawyer has other clients who require attention too.
  • 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.