The number one complaint about lawyers is that they don’t return calls promptly. Here are some tips to make sure your communication with your lawyer stays productive.
- Make sure your attorney has your accurate cell number, home number and work number. If you can’t get calls at work, make sure he or she knows that and knows how to reach you. If you move or change numbers, let your lawyer know immediately.
- Give your attorney an email that they can use. Email communication can be handy. Just remember it may not be confidential.
- When you leave a message, leave a good time to call back, and try not to leave long winded messages on the voice mail. Wait until you have the conversation to give details.
- Save up your questions; jot them down and make a list, so you can go through all your questions in one call instead of two or three.
- Be polite to the attorney’s staff. It doesn’t help to shoot the messenger or the gatekeeper. Treat the staff well and they will be more likely to want to help you.
- Make an appointment to talk if your attorney seems to be unavailable when you are.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about your bill if you have questions or concerns. It’s hard to talk about money, but this can usually be cleared up quickly with a little communication.
- Communication goes both ways. Don’t disappear on your lawyer. Let them know if something is happening in your life that may keep you out of communication for a while.
- Make sure you give your attorney an emergency backup number. The name and phone number of a close relative or friend may help your attorney track you down if they need you quickly and can’t find you. Don’t forget to tell the relative or friend that you did this.
- Your attorney is there to help you, but they are not usually trained in psychology, so if you need to, find a good counselor to provide mental health assistance. It usually costs less per hour to see a therapist than to see a lawyer.
- Remember that your attorney is human, with a family and a life outside of work hours. Don’t demand communication at all hours or get angry if a call cannot be returned during the weekend or at night. Most legal problems cannot be solved during those times anyway. So jot down your question and wait for Monday.
- Don’t lie to your attorney or hide information. Your attorney needs to know the truth of what is going on in your life. Most secrets will come back to bite you so let your attorney help you figure out how to be transparent and to make disclosures that need to be made.
By taking these steps, you’ll ensure a more seamless communication plan with your lawyer and help move things along more efficiently.