What Can I Do to Help My Lawyer?
Helping your lawyer makes the legal process more efficient, cost effective and reduces stress. Here are six important tips from TGB’s Sarah Mitchell.
If you have engaged a lawyer before, you will know that most charge on an hourly basis. Effective use of time is in your best interest and theirs. You are essentially a team working towards a common goal; finding the best solution to your legal problem as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
Here are six things you can do to assist your lawyer. They are:
1. Explain the facts, as clearly and concisely as possible.
Lawyers apply the law to facts. We love facts. They are as important as the law.
Before your first appointment, try and identify the facts of your case. What is your story? What has happened to bring you to see your lawyer? Even better, jot down any relevant dates and events that relate to your case to bring into your appointment. If you really want to make your lawyer jump for joy, prepare a chronology of events in a format that can be easily read and emailed to your lawyer at a later date if you decide to engage them beyond the first interview.
If you can’t recall something precisely, don’t worry. Tell your lawyer exactly that.
2. Have your documents in order.
Often when you make an appointment to see a lawyer, the receptionist or personal assistant will ask you bring along any relevant documents to your appointment.
Bring along any and all documents you think might be relevant to your case and will therefore assist your lawyer to quickly get a grasp of the issues. Similarly, if you are given forms to fill out prior to the appointment, their completion and provision to your lawyer at the first interview will be valuable.
As you matter unfolds over time, keep a folder with all of the documents you receive that relate to your case and don’t forget to provide them to your lawyer at regular intervals.
3. Advise your lawyer of any changes to your contact details.
This seems like a fairly obvious one, but it’s important. If you change your contact details, let your lawyer know. If you prefer a mode of communication such as emails over phone calls, communicate this too.
If your circumstances change in any way, pass on this information as it will assist a smooth flow of communication between you and your lawyer.
4. If you have any concerns or questions, communicate these to your lawyer as soon as possible.
If something, anything, arises in relation to your case to cause you concern, bring it to your lawyer’s attention as soon as possible. Your concern can then be addressed and remedied if necessary.
Similarly, if you require clarification about correspondence sent to you from your lawyer, or want to query your bill, take this up with your lawyer one on one so you can work through it together.
5. Allow your lawyer to guide you through the process.
Engaging a lawyer often comes at a highly emotional time. Perhaps after a motor vehicle or work accident. After separation from a spouse.
Your lawyer is on your team. We are there to represent your best interests, and this means providing dispassionate advice that provides perspective at these emotional times. To do our job well you need to trust us to guide you through in order to achieve the best legal outcome possible in the circumstances.
6. Know what you want to achieve.
Give some thought to what you would like the outcome of your case to be. Your lawyer is likely to ask you this question so that he or she has a clear understanding of your expectations.
Your lawyer can address your expectations in the context of his or her work on your behalf so you are ‘on the same page’.
Find a lawyer you can relate to and communicate well with, and add them to your team along with your family accountant, doctor and dentist.
Pick up the phone and call your lawyer if a legal problem arises, even if you are doubtful the problem falls into their area of expertise. Your lawyer will find someone who can help you if they can not.
At Tindall Gask Bentley we have a large number of lawyers that make up various teams in many practice areas and we work together to provide a thorough service to our clients. We are here to help.
Contact your nearest TGB office (South Australia, Western Australia or Northern Territory) or register online for an appointment.