At some point in your life, you may need to hire the services of an attorney. Especially if you’ve never met with one before, your first meeting with an attorney may intimidate you.
Below is a brief guide on the attorney-client relationship and what you can expect.
Your First Meeting
Once you’ve set up your first meeting, it’s important to come prepared. This means bringing any information along with you that may be helpful to your case. This could include medical bills and records, police reports, photos, legal documents, or any other relevant information. If you’re unsure what to bring, never be afraid to call and ask. If working with a larger firm, you may communicate with paralegals or legal assistants on some of these matters.
You’ll want to discuss fees and payment schedules upfront and get them in writing. Your duty to your attorney is to pay them in full and on time. You’ll also want to find out beforehand if your attorney will be collecting a contingency fee or a retainer fee.
Once you’ve hired an attorney, there are a few duties they legally owe you:
- Duty to avoid conflicts of interest
- Duty of confidentiality
- Duty to provide competent representation
- Duty to diligently represent
Conflicts of Interest
In the eyes of the law, conflicts of interest mean someone whose interests are adverse to yours. For instance, if you’re getting a divorce, a lawyer can’t represent both you and your soon-to-be ex. The only way this would be possible is if both parties are completely aware of the situation and consent to the representation.
Duty of Confidentiality
The attorney-client relationship is rooted in trust. Therefore, the information you share with your lawyer is kept confidential. You should feel comfortable being open and honest with your attorney no matter the situation. The more honest you are, the better they can represent you.
Duty to Provide Competent Representation
Competent representation means the attorney has the expertise to handle your case. If they don’t, they have the duty to tell you so. Attorneys are given a reasonable amount of time to become comfortable with an area of law but if they aren’t able to in that time, they should refer you to an attorney who has knowledge in that area.
Duty to Diligently Represent
An attorney should wholeheartedly represent the client’s point of view and always keep the client informed on the status of their case.
Choosing and hiring an attorney is sometimes an incredibly important step to settling your legal matters. Your attorney-client relationship should be respectful and rooted in trust.
If you’re looking for an attorney, we’d love to meet you and show you why we’re the legal team that you’ll want on your side.