Your Agreement with your lawyer

Your lawyer should:

  • You are in charge, your lawyer should make that clear
  • You have a right to know the possible outcomes of your legal matter.  Sometimes your lawyer will need to tell you that the outcome you seek is not possible.  This might be for reasons of law or because you cannot bring appropriate evidence.
  • Timetables are important, your lawyer should ensure you understand the schedule.  And you should do your very best to meet those timetables.  The Court will not tolerate delays and the other side might use your delays against you.
  • Sometimes clients do not fully understand what is important to their matter and tend to want to discuss extraneous information.  Your lawyer should help you sort out what are the important issues and explain to you ”why”
  • Legal action can be expensive, you have a right to have the costs estimated in a responsible manner and to have those costs explained to you.  You have a right to a proper Retainer (a contract between you and your lawyer)
  • Sometimes there is more than one way to approach a legal problem.  Sometimes there is more than one outcome possible.  Your lawyer should explain the options available to you.
  • If there are changes or delays in the proceedings, your lawyer should explain these to you.  You should realise that sometimes the law operates slowly.  You should know there is a huge workload on the Courts and realise that everyone feels their problem is the most important.
  • Sometimes clients have an unrealistic view of what they might achieve from a legal action.  Your lawyer should explain carefully what it is that you might achieve, and the limits on what you can seek.
  • If you go to Court, you might lose.  If you lose you might be ordered to pay the other side’s legal costs.  Your lawyer should explain the availability and benefits of attempting to reach a negotiated settlement. If you go to court, the outcome is really taken out of your hands. If you negotiate towards a settlement, you can maintain some control.
  • You will need to make statements (affidavits) and collect evidence in a proper form.  Your lawyer will guide you through these processes.

 

You should:

  • If you agree to a strategy or course of action, you should stick with it, or discuss with your lawyer about your change of mind.
  • You should try to minimise the time (thus costs) of your legal action by preparing a summary of the main events and the timelines of those events.
  • Your lawyer cannot do his job unless you provide the complete story.  Do not withhold parts of the story even if you find them to be embarrassing.  There is nothing worse than an important fact coming out during trial.
  • Your discussions and disclosures to your lawyer are strictly confidential.  Your lawyer may not release any information without your permission.
  • If there are changes in circumstances that affect your legal case, you should advise your lawyer as soon as you become aware of those changes.
  • Your lawyer is usually a very busy professional.  Of course, he or she must provide you with proper access and advice on the progress of your case.  But you do not help anyone by making too many inquiries.  You might find that your lawyer needs to charge you for time spent on your inquiries.
  • If you want information about your case, identify and write out the specific information you need.  This will help you confine your inquiry to the true issue.
  • If you have made an appointment with your lawyer and for some reason you cannot keep that appointment, please consider your lawyer and provide the earliest possible notification.
  • You can save time and costs if you are prepared to do some background research, locate evidence or witnesses. Your lawyer can assist you by identifying those research items that you could do for yourself.
  • You must pay your bills on time.
  • Your lawyer must keep the relationship with you on a strictly professional basis.  Your lawyer cannot become personally involved with you, please don’t expect that of your lawyer.