We get it. No one wants to talk to lawyers. But there comes a time in everyone’s life—whether it be good news (Marriage), bad news (Divorce/Estate Administration) or something in the middle (Estate Planning, Asset Protection or Business Acquisitions/Sales)—when you’ll need to consult with a lawyer. And when that time comes, there are a few tips you should consider to make the legal process a whole lot easier and less painful for both you and your lawyer.
But wait! You may be thinking, “Isn’t that what I pay my lawyer for?” Not quite. Consider this: Imagine having a toothache (ouch). Naturally, you’d go to your dentist, who would ask a couple of standard questions like, “Where does it hurt?” or “What medications have you been using to reduce the pain?” Now, imagine if you simply said, “I don’t know” to all those questions. It may sound strange but lawyers are like dentists. Or, in fact, like any professionals who try to help you help yourself. They can only do so much without your guidance. It takes teamwork.
Though lawyers, by definition, are well-versed in the landscape of law, you need to provide background information (details, first-hand accounts, documents, etc.) so they can smoothly steer through the long and winding legal road without making anyone nauseous along the way.
So are you ready to talk to your lawyer? Here are five helpful tips to ensure a pleasant experience and (hopefully) a successful outcome.
1. Get organized. Try to create a clear, comprehensive story of your situation. For example, if it’s an event-related incident (e.g. traffic ticket), you should make sure you write down everything that took place, from start to finish, in chronological order. Create a folder of relevant legal documents. Get a contact list of the witnesses on the scene. Just don’t dump an overload of scattered information on your poor lawyer to sort out themselves.
2. Be detailed. Seemingly frivolous details like the weather may, at first, seem dismissible. But in the eyes of the law, every detail matters; every variable has the potential to help your case. And since your lawyer doesn’t follow your every move (we certainly hope not!), it’s your responsibility to be your lawyer’s eyes and ears so they are looking at the whole (and most importantly, accurate) picture. Give specifics (names, dates, and exact incidents) and factual information to produce that crystal clear view.
3. Be honest. Plain and simple: Don’t lie. Remember that you and your lawyer are on the same team. Your lawyer cannot share confidential information with anyone, unless you give them permission to do so. When you start omitting relevant facts or adding fictitious information to your story, it’ll only hurt you in the end. Be prepared to explain everything to your lawyer—the good and the bad. This will help them give you the right advice and guidance to ensure the best possible outcome.
4. Ask to clarify. If you find yourself confused by all the legal jargon you hear, that’s okay. The law can get confusing, and this is not the time to guess at meanings or pretend to understand legalese. Just let your lawyer know, and they should do their best to explain things in layman’s terms. Getting a clarification or two may go a long way toward putting your mind at ease—and help your lawyer do a better job of handling your case. It’s both you and your lawyer’s job to fully comprehend your legal situation.
5. Keep them informed. Things are bound to change. And when they do, it’s imperative to update your lawyer. Each small detail or development can dramatically change your legal situation—for better or for worse. Some legal situations may take a longer time to resolve so it’s best to keep in contact with your lawyer as new relevant updates pop up.
There are a lot of great lawyers that can help you with these decisions. If you live near us, give us a call. We would love a chance to work with you. If you don’t live near us, give us a call anyway and we will route you to some very good people.
Until then, good luck and good hunting.
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The Fisher Law Office is known for its experience in estate planning, probate administration, asset protection, and business development. Annapolis attorney Randall D. Fisher has practiced for over 20 years, maintains the highest peer review rating for ethics (AV Preeminent) by Martindale-Hubbell, and is a sucker for long walks on the fairways.
Find out how to reach Randy via TheFisherLawOffice.com or find him at Facebook.com/FisherLawOffice, on Twitter @thefisherlawoffice, or at LinkedIn.com/in/FisherLawOffice.