In yesterday’s blog post from the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan we introduced the topic of the attorney-client relationship. If you are
interested in learning more about how a law office handles your case on
a daily basis as well as what you need to be prepared for as far as responsibilities
in your case are concerned I highly recommend that you go back and read
through that blog.
Collect documents and information early and often
Just because you have handed your attorney a small chunk of your net worth
and an even larger amount of good-faith does not mean that all the work
on your case from that point forward is to be done by your attorney. Far
from that. Ultimately every decision in your case will be made by you
with the assistance and advice of your attorney.
Part of your responsibility as a client is to assist your attorney in creating
a strong case. A strong case is built upon facts that can be used advantageously
in the courtroom if necessary. Even though going to a trial is unlikely
given how frequently settlements occur in divorce cases it is still important
to be able to present a strong case to your judge. With that said, how
can you best assist your attorney in the incredibly important task of
building your case?
Filling out information packets, inventories and appraisements and similar
documents are a start. These are basic questions that your attorney will
need to have completed in order so that he or she can learn important
facts about your life. Your income, your children’s activities,
your spouse’s income and any pertinent family history will all be
discussed in these documents. How your family property is broken down into
separate and how you value your property is crucially important to formulating
arguments to present as well.
In collecting documents like tax returns, pay stubs, bank and retirement
account information you are helping your attorney and teaching yourself
more about your case than you may have realized. The majority of this
work can be done before you even hire an attorney. Save yourself time
and money by getting to work on this now. Collect documents and begin
to take inventory of your life.
Become comfortable with being in charge of your case
You are not an expert on divorce. You are not an expert on the law. You
are an expert on yourself, your family and what is best for your children.
Nobody (outside of your spouse) will ever know more about yourself, your
family and your children then you will. As a result, you are your attorney’s
greatest resource when it comes to preparing a case.
With this being said, you as the expert and owner of your case will be
charged with making all decisions about whether to settle, go to trial
or make individual decisions regarding custody,
child support and any other subject. Examine your life and think about what is in your
best interests and that of your children. If you have a question about
how your thoughts line up with your attorney’s simply contact him
or her. You can seek your attorney’s counsel on any subject you
wish. You’re paying them for that advice, keep in mind.
At a certain level though you are relying on your attorney’s judgment
and expertise and should defer to him or her as a result. Drafting certain
documents in certain ways, formulating questions at a hearing or even
allowing a hearing or mediation to be pushed back a few weeks are areas
where you ought to listen to your attorney and allow him or her to take
the lead. If something doesn’t make sense to you then obviously
ask for a clarification. In general, however, keep in mind that while
you will be making all the decisions in your case there are micro-level
decisions that are best left to your attorney.
Maintaining the attorney-client privilege
The most special aspect of the relationship between your attorney and you
is that your communications are privileged, meaning that they are confidential.
Outside of telling your attorney something about abuse/neglect of a child
or the details of a crime that has been committed, your attorney is not
at liberty to discuss any of your communications between one another without
your consent. If you have sent an email to your attorney, had a conversation
over the phone or even completed paperwork, this confidentiality applies
to each of those situations.
Read the contract between yourself and your attorney
This may seem obvious but it is a tip that I cannot emphasize enough. Please
read the contract that you are signing with your attorney. It is not enough
to skim the document or to ask your attorney to summarize it. Go through
every word on every page so that you understand what you are getting yourself
into as far as representation is concerned. Your attorney can be the best
advocate ever but if you and he/she are in disagreement over payment or
any other issue then the relationship can quickly become a negative one for you.
Our office will go over the contract with you prior to both sides signing
and I would recommend that you make sure any lawyer you hire do the same
with you. Ask questions and get clarifications if necessary. Start your
case off on the right foot by understanding the nature of your relationship
and the responsibilities that both sides have to one another.
Questions about the attorney-client relationship? Contact the Law Office
of Bryan Fagan today
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this important subject with you
all. If you have questions about hiring a
family law attorney please do not hesitate to
contact our office today.
Across southeast Texas, people just like you have chosen to have the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan work on their behalf. For a free of charge consultation with one of our
licensed family law attorneys please contact us today.