How to Talk to Your Lawyer

February 27, 2016

If your employment matter has not been resolved to your satisfaction and has progressed to the stage where you have retained a private attorney you will need to work with your lawyer to try to obtain the best outcome possible. Communication is the key to achieving this shared goal. Let’s be honest, most experienced employment lawyers are extremely busy. So, communication needs to be thorough, concise and effective in order to ensure that you and your attorney have a good working relationship founded on mutual trust and respect.

Here are 5 tips on how and when to talk to your employment attorney:

1. Be Completely Honest

All private conversations with your lawyer are completely confidential. This applies even if you merely consult with an attorney and ultimately do not hire them. Almost all information you share with your attorney is privileged which means it cannot be disclosed absent extraordinary circumstances.

Some exceptions to attorney/client privilege occur if a client: (1) brings a third-party to the meeting with the attorney; (2) tells the attorney that they are going to harm himself or herself or someone else; or (3) says they are going to commit a future crime. Under those circumstances an attorney is ethically obligated to tell the authorities.

It is best for you to tell your attorney the whole truth. If you made a mistake, tell your attorney. Do not leave out information that you think makes you look bad. Your attorney needs to know the good, the bad, and the ugly in order to formulate the best strategy for your case. It will just hurt you and your case if your attorney gets blindsided by negative facts about the case that the other side knows about (that your lawyer does not).

2. Be Accurate and Complete

Sit down before you meet with your attorney and organize your thoughts. Go through the history of the case chronologically. Make a list of specific documents or evidence that supports your case. Then organize them and bring them to the meeting. Similarly, if there are fact witnesses in your case identify them and what knowledge they have. Tell the attorney everything, even if you do not think it is important. Be as specific, accurate and complete as you can with relevant names, dates, and detailed descriptions. Your lawyer is tasked with determining which pieces of information are legally relevant and which pieces are not. However, what may be important to you about your case may not have any legal significance. Remember— lawyers want to win. They choose arguments the court is going to want to hear.

3. Be Reasonable and Open Minded

Be reasonable and open minded about hearing the strengths and weaknesses of your case and how that affects the case value. All cases have weaknesses. It is the attorney’s job to assess how the case will fare at trial. Some cases should settle prior to trial, because the facts of the case clearly favor one side over the other. Other cases go to trial because both sides have a viable legal argument. The worst cases do not go to trial because of a winning legal or factual scenario. The worst cases go to trial because one or both sides are unreasonable and refuse to settle. Most employment laws have caps on your recovery. Your lawyer’s job is to get you the best possible outcome. That depends on many factors. It is at this point where the trust and communication skills developed over the course of the representation will be most useful.

4. Follow Deadlines

When your attorney asks you to do something, do it before the deadline he or she gives you. As stated above bring all documents, logs, your diary, witness lists and contact information that you have to the attorney at the first meeting. Have them organized. If the attorney asks you to get a document or sign an affidavit, do it right away. Attorneys are juggling many cases, each in various stages. They have multiple deadlines on any number of cases looming as well as last minute emergencies. Attorneys rely on their clients to get their information done on time. Another tip is to always be nice to their staff.

5. Stay in Regular Contact

Stay in regular contact with your lawyer. If you need to talk to your attorney call, set up an appointment, or email. If it seems like it has been a while since you have heard from your attorney, reach out. It is likely that there is nothing new in the case. Courts and attorneys are all working on multiple cases which means cases inevitably move slowly . However, keep your client informed with updates on your end such as if you find a new job or learn of new facts about your case.

If you’re currently looking for a lawyer you can communicate with — look into the lawyers at PCW Law Firm. If you follow these tips your attorney/client relationship will be built upon open, honest communication. Together you can work to get the best possible outcome.

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