An Ounce of Prevention
*What can I do to avoid problems with my lawyer in the first place?
- Successful lawyers are busy people. A telephone call often cannot be handled right away, and you may have to leave a message. Leave as complete a message as possible so your lawyer has a sense of the urgency of the situation. If you don't get a timely return call, request an appointment or send a letter and keep a copy for your records.
- Make sure you have a good understanding of the basis for the fee you will be charged. It is always fair for you to ask the lawyer to put the basic fee agreement in writing.
- If you feel problems are developing in your relationship with your lawyer, discuss them early on before they become serious. Most lawyers will welcome an opportunity to speak with their clients about improving the relationship.
- If your fee agreement calls for you to pay fees on an hourly basis, ask to be billed frequently so you can keep track of the costs of representation.
- A workable attorney-client relationship is worth preserving, but if you have lost confidence in your lawyer, remember that you are free to discharge your lawyer and hire a new one at any time.
- Ask to receive copies of the written legal work that is prepared on your behalf by your lawyer.
- Be an informed consumer of legal services. Don't be afraid to ask your lawyer questions about your case.
- Make wise use of your lawyer's time.