Your relationship with your attorney can make or break your case. The attorney-client relationship also comes with important privileges and responsibilities.
To make the most of your lawyer’s services and experience, you need to find the best fit for you and your case, build trust, and know when your relationship begins and ends.
Choosing the Right Lawyer
People rarely come to personal injury attorneys when things are good, so the process of choosing a lawyer can be fraught with anxiety and bad feelings. The right lawyer will help you feel more at ease.
When choosing your lawyer, look for someone you can talk to. Communication is one of the most important aspects of the attorney-client relationship.
You may also want someone whose values align well with your own. If getting closure is more important to you than recovering compensation, for example, you will want someone more compassionate. All personal injury lawyers seek to recover as much compensation as possible for their clients, but some are more process-oriented, and others are more results-oriented. Further, some attorneys are more client-focused than others.
You begin building trust the moment you choose an attorney. When you choose a lawyer, you are trusting them with your case, which often means putting your personal, professional, and financial future in a stranger’s hands. Additionally, you are trusting your attorney to solve your legal problems.
Talking to your lawyer can help you build trust, as can setting reasonable expectations. Your attorney should explain legal concepts to you fully and advise you of the best decisions in your case. They should also be honest with you about all the possible outcomes of your case. Of course, you need to be honest with your attorney, as well. You should also avoid being overly demanding, maintaining unrealistic expectations, and losing your temper. Try to conduct yourself with the same professionalism you expect from your attorney.
Accessibility is another key factor in trust. You should be able to contact your attorney when you need them, and if your lawyer misses your call, you should not have to wait days on end for a response.
At the Law Offices of Charles R. Gueli, our clients love that we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They know they can always trust us to be there.
When Does the Attorney-Client Relationship Begin and End?
The attorney-client relationship does not begin until your lawyer agrees to represent you in writing.
Keep in mind that an attorney can decide not to represent you. If you receive a non-engagement letter, do not take it personally and know that the lawyer may have too many cases, feel uncomfortable with your case due to lack of experience, or even have a conflict of interest representing you.
Once you and your lawyer sign a letter of engagement and a written contract, your attorney-client relationship is in full effect.
The attorney-client relationship will only end if you or your attorney terminate it in writing. Your lawyer might send you a closing letter, or you might need to write a termination letter to fire your lawyer.
Most legal contracts have a termination clause, which specifies the procedure for ending an attorney-client relationship. Otherwise, your attorney-client relationship may end automatically when your case is fully resolved.
No matter what, the beginning and end of your attorney-client relationship must always appear in writing and be recognized by the court.
What Responsibilities Does Your Attorney Have Toward You?
Your lawyer has professional obligations to you as a client. For instance, your lawyer must:
- Have basic competence in the kind of legal work you need
- Put your interests ahead of their own
- Represent you without a conflict of interest
- Charge reasonable fees
- Keep your money separate from their own
- Work within the bounds of the law
- Refrain from doing anything illegal on your behalf
You can also expect your attorney to return your calls, come to your meetings and hearing organized and prepared, and give you good advice.
Additionally, your lawyer is legally obligated to keep your communications confidential.
What Is Attorney-Client Privilege?
Attorney-client privilege refers to your lawyer’s responsibility to keep your communications private. It also means that your lawyer cannot disclose information that is relevant to your case to anyone, including in court.
Put another way, your attorney cannot testify against you, and you can – and should – be completely honest with them about your case.
Attorney-client privilege begins when you consult a lawyer and remains in place even after your attorney-client relationship has ended.
How to Make the Most of Your Attorney-Client Relationship
To make the most of your attorney-client relationship, choose someone you trust and can talk to – and let them handle your case for you. Take advantage of the skill and experience your attorney has to offer, ask questions when you need to, and work as a team with your lawyer.
We also cannot emphasize enough the importance of choosing the right lawyer.
Charles R. Gueli has over 2 decades of legal experience and is available 24/7 to take your call. Our team handles every case with personalized attention, and you can rely on us to be there for you.
Find out if Attorney Gueli is right for you during a free, confidential consultation – call our firm at (516) 628-6402 or contact us online to get started today.