How Can You Work Best With Your Lawyer
All lawyers take an oath upon admission to practice in this state to uphold the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions and the law and to be faithful to their clients. Just as your communications with your clergyman or doctor are confidential, so are your private communications with your lawyer. Ethics rules prohibit your lawyer from disclosing any information about your matter without permission from you. Your lawyer’s principal duty is to see that you receive the benefit of all your legal rights. In working with your lawyer:
1. Write down the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all persons involved in your matter and all pertinent facts. By doing this at home, you will reduce the time your lawyer will need to spend gathering the information.
2. Take all papers relating to the matter to the first meeting with your lawyer.
3. Be honest and tell your lawyer all of the facts — good and bad. Your lawyer must keep them in the strictest of confidences and must know everything about your matter in order to represent you to the best of his/her ability.
4. Also, discuss your expectations for the matter with your lawyer.
5. Have your lawyer analyze your matter and give you the pluses and minuses.
6. Do not expect simple solutions to complex problems.
7. Ask your lawyer to explain the various steps involved in handling your matter and ask for an estimate of how long it will take.
8. Be sure to ask your lawyer to keep you informed about the progress of your matter.
9. Contact your lawyer when any new developments arise that might affect your matter.
10. Discuss billing arrangements with your lawyer at the first meeting. The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct require lawyers to generate a fee arrangement when a client agrees to retain counsel.
11. See a lawyer before signing documents or taking legal action.
12. Be sure you understand all of the ramifications of what you are signing or doing, and then follow the advice of your lawyer.
Remember: You can’t learn how to be a lawyer overnight and the outcome of your case can effect you forever. In fact, you may lose money, property, custody or other rights and not even be aware of it. Don’t rely on friends, family or the internet to give you legal advice. Only a lawyer can advise you on legal matters.