Communication between a client and attorney is one of the most critical parts of any divorce or other family law proceeding.
Here are 4 important tips to remember for any communication with your lawyer.
1. Tell the truth
Some of the best ways for us to have good communication with our clients is to establish a place of safety. I suggest to anyone who’s getting ready to hire a family lawyer to make sure they feel safe communicating with that attorney. You must feel comfortable telling the truth to your attorney. Your lawyer cannot help you accomplish your goals if you are not telling the truth.
2. Do your homework
You have to be responsive to the homework your lawyer asks for. This way they can be ahead of the curve and have the documents, evidence, and text messages, etc. that they need to help tell your story. It’s important to keep everything in writing. Don’t think just telling your lawyer is enough. It is much more effective to send it in writing. Text messages are okay. Emails are better, because of how our technology works.
3. Communicate Regularly
You should be talking to your lawyer at least biweekly, if not weekly. Generally, at the beginning of the case, it takes a lot more communication. You need to understand the timeline of the divorce and the progression of the stages in the case. At least biweekly communication assures that everybody is on task.
4. Help your lawyer tell your story
The important thing is that you have a good relationship with the lawyer. At the end of the day, I always tell my clients, I’m your storyteller. If I don’t have all of your information, then my story is not going to be as effective.
Can you over-communicate with your lawyer? If you send a lot of emails and calls, can that drive your cost up? Is there a better way of managing your costs?
Early on, you and your lawyer need to establish a budget. Sometimes, hyperventilating and over communicating is necessary. There are moments of disagreement between the two spouses that are occurring outside of the divorce process. You are transitioning from being married to divorced. That is challenging. If this is the case, I may direct you to counseling, which is a lot less expensive than a lawyer. Yet, the lawyer must be kept informed via writing.
Also, it’s a good idea to collect all of your concerns over a couple of days or a week, and then update the lawyer. Then you have one email and one cost, instead of several emails or costly phone calls.
When you begin a divorce case, what are the most important things to bring into that first meeting to communicate with a lawyer?
It’s important for the attorney to know the behavioral and emotional history of the relationship and the financial history of the relationship. What role have the parents played when working together for the children? If there are no children or the couple is further along in life and at a retirement stage, what are your goals? If you can come in with some sense of communicating where you’ve been and where you are, then the lawyer can help you get to where you want to go.