How Do I Effectively Work With My Lawyer?

Too many clients attempt to let their attorney handle all of the case without their help. As a client, you have a responsibility to assist your attorney for the most likely chance of a favorable outcome. Moreover, the client has critical factual and background information which the lawyer does not know without his help. How far are you expected to go as a client in assisting your attorney?

The answer is as far as necessary to ensure a favorable outcome. First, follow the instructions of your attorney. If he tells you that he needs information regarding your taxable income, then provide that information timely. Your lawyer cannot effectively prepare your case without your help and cooperation. If he tells you not to provide a statement to the other side without him being present, then follow his instruction.

Second, always be honest with your attorney. Remember, whatever is said by you to your attorney during the course of his representation of you is protected by the attorney-client privilege. There is nothing more detrimental to a case than for facts to come out at trial which you knew about, but failed to disclose to your attorney. He should be given the opportunity to prepare for any adverse facts or circumstances before any testimony is provided.

Give your attorney all relevant paperwork. Copies of medical bills, medical records, repair estimates, proof of lost wages, statements, and insurance policies are some of the documents you should provide to your attorney. Also, be prepared to provide a list of witnesses, complete with addresses and phone numbers, who can support the claim. Take photographs of the accident scene, your car, your injuries or any other area which may need to considered in your case.

Information regarding prior claims or preexisting medical conditions must also be provided to your attorney. Holding back such information will only handicap your attorney because it is almost certain that the other side either has or will get such information during the case. This is especially true in this age of information and technology. Moreover, when you file a claim, the court can require you to sign authorizations for them to obtain "any information which is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence," even if that evidence itself is not admissible.

Show up for scheduled appointments on time. If you are scheduled to see a doctor, make sure you make the scheduled appointment. If you cannot make the appointment, notify both the physician and your attorney. Remember, your physician will document your missed appointments and the opposing attorney will attempt to use this against you. If you show up late for your testimony, the time for preparation with your attorney will be affected.

Finally, communicate with your attorney about all information which may have changed since you first retained him. Changes of address, phone numbers, marital status, job status and medical status are very important areas in which to keep your attorney informed. A change which is not communicated can be as detrimental as a fact not initially disclosed. Thus, be sure to keep your attorney informed of any relevant changes.