fdgFor the purposes of this blog post I am going to assume that you, as
a reader of this blog, have never hired an attorney, filed a lawsuit or
even seen the inside of a courtroom before. Maybe you’ve seen a
TV show about lawyers or your younger brother has gotten a
divorce but you never have and therefore have questions about what to expect and
how to handle yourself in a divorce case.
This blog post will center around those subjects in an effort to assist
you in learning more about the process. Along the way if you have questions
please feel free to reach out to the attorneys with the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan and we can schedule a consultation for you and one of our licensed
family law attorneys.
When you hire an attorney, you’re hiring more than just someone with
a law degree
The face you see on a lawyer’s website or the smiling face at the
consultation you had with the attorney is just the tip of the iceberg
as far as the people that will be knowledgeable of and will be working
on your family law case. As much as you are hiring an attorney to potentially
represent you in court and in other legal settings, the day to day work
on your case will likely be handled by your attorney’s support staff.
For an attorney’s office, the support staff likely consists of paralegals,
legal assistants, law clerks, secretaries and other personnel whose job
it is to manage cases and help clients achieve their goals. When you call
your attorney it is likely that a support staff member will answer the
phone much the same way as when you call your doctor a nurse or other
team member will take your call there. This doesn’t mean that your
attorney is not being responsive but likely means that he or she is either
meeting with another client, on the phone with an opposing attorney or
is representing a client in court.
A benefit of having your attorney’s support staff handling the day
to day matters associated with your case means that they are working for
you on a reduced rate as compared to your attorney. Family law attorneys
typically bill clients by the hour and the amounts that their staff charge
varies with experience and position at the firm. While attorneys bill
more than other team members (understandably), the support staff work
at lower billable hours. This means that your case will keep moving even
when your attorney is busy and you will not be charged as much. That’s
a “win-win” in my book.
Fulfilling your responsibilities as a client
It is easy to become too comfortable with the idea that now that you’ve
hired an attorney your responsibilities sort of melt away. This could
not be further from the truth. Your role in a family law case is to learn
as much as possible, to ask questions of your attorney and to direct your
attorney on where you want your case to go. This does not mean that you
have to earn your own “unofficial” law degree during your
case but your case will be better off with you in charge. After all- this
is your case and not your attorney’s. It is his or her responsibility
to give you advice, but it is your responsibility to make decisions.
Your attorney should be keeping you up to date with all filings, correspondence
sent to opposing counsel and settlement offers made during your case.
If he or she is not doing this insist that you be kept in the loop during
these sort of matters. If you are receiving updates on your case and something
does not make sense to you absolutely ask to have something clarified
or explained to you. If an email doesn’t do the trick ask for a
phone call. If the phone call still doesn’t clear something up for
you ask to set up a time to come into the office to meet with your attorney
face to face. From an attorney’s perspective, if the client is aware
of every thing going on with a case you are held much more accountable
for your actions and work on a case.
Be truthful to your attorney- about everything
If there is one person in the world that you need to be one hundred percent
truthful with during your divorce it is your attorney. If you have any
information on any subject that is essential to your case provide that
information to him or her. Maybe you are a person of few words in most
regards. That’s fine. In your divorce, however, communicate early
and often with your attorney to ensure that everyone is on the same page
as far as your case is concerned.
It is easy to come forward with information that can be beneficial to your
case. If you have text messages, emails, or social media posts that implicate
your spouse in an affair or something similar you may feel like skipping
on the way to your attorney’s office to drop off the copies of those
messages. However, you need to be just as diligent when it comes to handing
over information that can hurt you as well. You may not relish having
to divulge negative information about yourself to your attorney but doing
so can help you all prepare for its usage in court and can potentially
minimize its impact overall.
Part Two of our discussion on the attorney-client relationship to be posted tomorrow
In tomorrow’s blog post from the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan we will go over more tips about your responsibilities as a client and
will get into the nature of your relationship to your attorney.
In the meantime if you have any questions for our office please do not
contact us. Across southeast Texas our attorneys have won many victories for our
clients with the help of our staff and clients just like you. Contact
us today to learn more about our firm and the services that we provide
our clients with.