What to Expect When Working With an Attorney

Whether you are filing for workplace injury compensation, divorce, or need a business contract drafted, you need to hire the right attorney for the job. 

But once you’ve found a good one, what should you expect when working with an attorney?

Working with an attorney can either be pleasant or unpleasant and sometimes people regret choosing a particular attorney. So they end up changing their attorney mid-stream and waste time searching for a good attorney all over again.

To prevent this, you should prepare relevant questions to ask your attorney and manage your expectations.

Here is a list of what you should expect, to help you ask better questions the next time you are interviewing potential attorneys. Remember, you have the right to proper legal counsel, so don’t be afraid to make your expectations clear.

Realistic Client Expectations

Hiring an Attorney

When working with a qualified, competent attorney, you can expect, at a minimum, the following . . . 

Ethical Conduct 

Reportedly, an average attorney should expect three legal malpractice claims in the course of his or her career. About 65% of all legal malpractice claims are brought against legal firms with fewer than six attorneys.

The top three problem practice areas in which these malpractice claims arise are the plaintiff’s personal injury, real estate, and family law. Preparation, filing, and transmittal of documents start of proceedings, and advice makes up the top three problem activities committed by attorneys.

These malpractice issues arise when an attorney fails in his or her duty to care for the client and/or deviates from the applicable standard of care, further resulting in the plaintiff suffering damages.

To avoid such issues, you should expect that your attorney maintains different accounts for the client and attorney money, makes only factual representations, always operates within the law, and is loyal to only you to prevent conflicts of interest.

Clear Communication

Failure to inform on commencement of proceeding constitute 17.32% of legal malpractice claims. 

An attorney owes it to you, the client, to always update you on the case proceedings. The attorney code of ethics dictates that an attorney should reasonably keep clients informed on a case. This includes but is not limited to when the case is filed, details of settlement demands, and when the case is dismissed or resolved.

Answers

A good attorney should be willing to provide clear answers on any questions you have regarding the legal matter at hand. No matter how busy they are, they should schedule a meeting with you and review the case, being patient, friendly, and credible. 

A great way to get your answers is through a phone call or meetings, as well as a follow-up email detailing your meeting and outcome for future reference. Emails are great written evidence should you need to file a malpractice claim later on.

Skill

A good attorney should have great prowess in their area of practice.  

A trial attorney should know his way around the courtroom, for example. An attorney with both trial and writing skills is impressive. 

Also, ensure that your attorney is knowledgeable about the little details in the area of specialization. This includes general procedures and deadlines. As you will find out, sometimes cases take a hit because an attorney didn’t meet a deadline or follow court procedure, despite being terrific at the job.

No Hidden Fees

Legal counsel is expensive. The last thing you want is an attorney who charges a premium and still has several hidden fees.

Often, such hidden fees are introduced too late into the engagement. And that means you can’t pull out and will have to pay them, which may mean going into debt. Request that your attorney detail all fees and costs upfront and in writing.

Reasonable Expectations When Working with an Attorney

Hiring an Attorney

A good attorney, then, should be ethical, pleasant, knowledgeable, skillful, and a great communicator, as well as charging no hidden fees.  And you can return the favor by paying your bills on time, providing factual information, and managing your expectations. 

Still, attorneys are not miracle workers. They have to work within the law and leave the outcome to the judge or jury.

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Read our latest article on the best 6 questions to ask when hiring an attorney.

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