I have heard from more than one person who has met with me for a free of charge consultation that they were nervous to come in and talk to a lawyer. The reason for this, I think, is that our culture has built up lawyers to be money hungry, hard driving, aggressive and overall not that pleasant to interact with. While this may be true for some lawyers I can assure you the vast majority of attorneys that I have met in my lifetime are not this way.
Family law attorneys should know the law. Family law attorneys should know how to advocate for you in the courtroom. A family law attorney should also be adept at negotiation should your case allow for a reasonable opportunity to settle outside of court. What many people don’t immediately consider is that family law attorneys should also not shy away from the fact that we need to be teachers rather than salesmen and saleswomen. Do I mean that the power of persuasion is not important to an attorney? Not at all. However, attorneys need to be able to help you as a client to understand the issues and circumstances surrounding your case so that you may make a decision that is based on fact rather than speculation or assumptions.
In my experience representing clients I feel like the best outcomes occur when clients are active and engaged in their case. I have also found that when I believe that I have done a great job of explaining issues and walking a client through a set of facts then the client feels more confident and competent to make a decision. I can help you as the client get to this point by focusing on my role as teacher rather than by merely trying to persuade or convince you of something. You need to have a firm knowledge of the subject matter before you can make a truly informed decision.
You are probably overwhelmed right now as you consider whether or not to move forward with a divorce or a child custody case. The best remedy to that feeling is a firm understanding of the issues surrounding your particular case, the legal mechanisms to address those issues and the possible range of outcomes that you could encounter should you move forward with a family law case. It is the job of your attorney to help guide you through these areas of your case to allow you to have the confidence to make decisions and have goals. You are not to be expected to have the ability to do this naturally. Your attorney should assist you to build up your wherewithal when it comes to the law.
Clients often expect too much of themselves and not enough of their attorney
You do not need to have any amount of legal knowledge prior to starting a family law case. It would be helpful if you did but it is not necessary. Whatever your educational or professional background, your attorney has a responsibility to teach you about your case. In order to organize your case, your thoughts and your life in general it is best for you to be able to have a clear mind to make decisions. Selecting an attorney who can help in this regard is absolutely essential.
Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC is going to center around how a good attorney will help you feel more at ease in your case and more confident that you can reach whatever goals you have set out for yourself.
Seek a general overview of what a divorce or child custody case looks like
Whether yours is a divorce or a child custody matter, you should ask your attorney to provide you with a general idea of what a case looks like and the steps involved. Most people are like you- maybe you know a little about family law or divorce- but you’re not an expert by any means. And why should you be? You have a job, a family and interests outside of the Texas Family Code. Nobody expects you to have a detailed understanding of the legal matter facing you and your family.
For instance, if your attorney is using terms that you do not understand or are unfamiliar to you ask him or her to slow down and explain each word that you do not know the meaning of. This is not being tedious or disrespectful. Your attorney uses words and phrases with such regularity that he or she may not stop and consider each time they are used that their meaning may escape some people.
Your attorney should not assume that you know each step in the divorce process either. You should have a specific knowledge of each step in the divorce process as well as what your role is in each and what responsibilities you need to shoulder during the case.
Your attorney should listen as much (if not more) than he or she speaks
Imagine that- listening to the client is important! I say this will all seriousness, however. Your attorney should primarily be concerned with your interests and your knowledge of your case. After any conversation with your attorney you should ask questions and listen to the response provided to you. Sometimes the response may not make sense to you and if it does not you should ask him or her to rephrase their answer or to tell it to you in a different way. This should allow you to better understand the information being provided to you and should also assist you in feeling like your attorney values you as a client.
Look to see if your attorney wants to know you as an individual rather than just a file
Attorneys handle cases that have been filed in various courts, but primarily those files are individual persons like yourself. Try to discern early on in your relationship with your attorney (preferably in your initial interview with him or her) if you get the impression that this attorney values client relationships. These are the type of attorneys you want to align yourself with. If your attorney values you as a person then you are more likely to trust him or her and to build the sort of relationship that is needed in order to achieve a successful result in your case.
Allow your attorney to be your confidant in areas related to your case
I understand that you may not feel excited at the prospect of sharing personal details about your life with a person that is basically a stranger- at first. If your attorney still feels like a stranger in the middle stages of your case then something is wrong. It is normal to be nervous and anxious about your family law case at the outset, but your attorney should be a port in the storm and a calming influence on you. Their experience should answer questions and allay fears regarding what to you are a lot of unknown future events.
One of the reasons that you have hired an attorney in the first place is to have someone else handle the legal matters of your case and to do so with an objective and rational manner. You have family, financial and relational matters to be concerned with. Make sure before you hire an attorney to get a feel for how your attorney acts around you and around the issues of your case. If you do not believe that he or she has a firm grasp on your case or if you are unsure of his or her confidence or competence level then you ought to consider hiring a different attorney.
There are many aspects of a divorce case to be concerned with- don’t let your attorney be one
Your family law attorney should be the least of your concerns as you embark upon a the journey towards reaching whatever goals you have in relation to a family law case. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have successfully represented clients across southeast Texas in family law cases and would be honored to speak to you about doing the same for you and your family. Please contact us today to set up a free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys.