People hire lawyers when they have problems they have been unable to solve without help. Most of our clients have never hired a lawyer before and are concerned about the process. A wise observer (my wife) once said, “Happy people don’t need lawyers.” So how do a client and lawyer develop a good working relationship that will lead to the best possible solution?
Communication is a key ingredient to a good attorney-client relationship.
Communication is a key ingredient to a good attorney-client relationship. A client should be satisfied that she/he can talk to and understand the lawyer. Lawyers have different communication styles, as do clients. Listening is part of communication, and both parties to a conversation must listen. A good attorney-client relationship starts if the client feels he/she can talk comfortably with the lawyer. This feeling should be present early on in the relationship, or problems are likely to develop later.
Knowledge of the law and willing ability to explain the law is another part of a good attorney-client relationship. The lawyer needs to know what she/he is doing and should be willing and able to explain the law and what is being done to solve the client’s problem. Lawyers who can’t or won’t explain have trouble maintaining a good relationship with their clients. Lawyers who know the law are interested in making sure the client is informed and comfortable with the process and the actions being taken. Some law firms provide copies of all court documents to clients and others make them available on request. The lawyer and client should discuss what practice will be followed. Our firm provides documents on request.
Lawyer or lawyer-staff availability is important as well. Most successful lawyers are very busy and have to rely on staff to assist with the wide variety of details involved in representing clients. Lawyers simply can’t answer every question or take every phone call and be able to attend and prepare for court appearances, do legal research, prepare for and participate in depositions, and have time to make good decisions. Our firm assigns at least one legal assistant to be familiar with and assist each client. A good strong support staff is very important to having a good attorney-client relationship. No law office is perfect, but a responsible office makes a good-faith effort to be available and helpful.
The discussions will likely include an inquiry regarding the client’s health before the injury, which is often vital information to the case.
In addition, we have a nurse on staff to deal with the medical issues that are present in most of the cases we handle. Part of the conversation we have in the medical arena includes a frank discussion about the client’s health. The discussions will likely include an inquiry regarding the client’s health before the injury, which is often vital information to the case. We will also ask for a list of the medical providers and doctors who have been involved with care and treatment of the injury or illness. One reason we ask for a list of all doctors, their contact information, and the client’s medical records is so we can communicate how the current situation has affected the client’s overall well-being. Clients have the added benefit of the nurse’s expertise in navigating through the health-care challenges of appointments, prescriptions, and follow-ups.
Modern communication is important to a good attorney-client relationship.
Modern communication is important to a good attorney-client relationship. People now communicate in a wide variety of ways. A law firm interested in building and maintaining good attorney-client relationships will also be able to communicate in a wide variety of ways. Phone systems should provide for 24/7 answering and messaging. E-mail should be available. Social media such as Facebook (our firm is at Rehm, Bennett & Moore Attorneys at Law P.C., L.L.O. https://www.facebook.com/rbmlawfirm and Trucker Lawyers https://www.facebook.com/truckerlawyers), Twitter (www.twitter.com/rehmlaw and www.twitter.com/truckerlawyers), and Pinterest (https://pinterest.com/rehmbennettmoor), etc., enhances communication. Video conferencing via the internet using services such as Skype is free and effective for face-to-face communication when distance and other constraints prevent in-person meetings. This firm will provide Web cameras to clients if needed to make that method of communication available.
The final and most important factor in the attorney-client relationship is truth.
The final and most important factor in the attorney-client relationship is truth. Lawyers need to be truthful and sometimes blunt in their evaluations and communications with clients. There will be difficult conversation in many cases, but the lawyer must be willing and able to speak the truth, even if it is bad news. The clients must also be completely honest with the lawyer. Clients should not hold back any information about their past and should answer all questions completely and honestly even if they feel the information will “hurt the case”. Actually, a surprise due to lack of complete honesty will hurt the case much more. If a lawyer knows all the facts, she/he will be better equipped to help.