LL&D Law
Communication and Trust is Key to Lawyer/Client Relationship

by George Freedman
6/15/2010 3:26:00 PM

 

     You may have been going through a divorce for several months. Your attorney stops returning your phone calls, is late for appointments and court, and you really don’t know what she is doing for the money you are paying. That inevitably leads a client to wonder how to know when it is time to change lawyers?
 
     The relationship between a lawyer and a client is primarily based on trust. You have to be able to trust your lawyer not only with your deepest secrets, but you must feel comfortable that she is taking care of your case properly, and has your best interests in mind. Trust is what should guide you through this decision.
 
     The first step is to take stock of where you are and where you want to be. Look back to the first meeting you had with the lawyer and the discussion you had. A quality lawyer should say what she is going to do – and then do what she says. Of course, things change along the way, and adjustments must be made as your case progresses. Does your attorney keep you apprised of what is happening in your case, and take the time to explain delays? Does she communicate how the plan you first discussed is being accomplished, or why it is changing?
 
     Looking forward, you need to know what your goals are and what is happening to get you there. If you don’t, it is time for a meeting with your lawyer. I suggest the meeting be in person. You must be honest and direct, and explain your concerns, and allow your lawyer to explain herself. Sometimes the problem is not whether the lawyer is working for you, but just whether she is communicating with you. Don’t be afraid to confront her and tell her what you will expect in the future. Require her to explain what has happened and tell you what her plan is for the future. Tell her you expect communication, including returned phone calls within 24 hours, and stick to it.
 
     If, after the meeting, you still have doubts, it may be time to change lawyers. In changing counsel, however, be certain you learn of any possible problems this could cause in your case. There may be a trial date or other deadlines coming up that could affect your decision. You should thus meet with your new attorney before firing your current attorney.

 



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