Hiring an attorney and joining in litigation (or Collaboration) is a serious matter. I, and others, have written about how to choose an attorney to hire. After you have crossed that threshold, both you and your attorney should work to maintain a good working relationship.
In the interest of better serving clients, here is a list of 10 tips for keeping and improving your relationship with your legal representative.
1. Listen to your attorney. Pretty much, you should tune out your family and friends who are offering their best legal advice for you. Your attorney is better qualified and more experienced.
2. Follow the attorney's advice. Lawyers don't enjoy trying to help someone who won't follow their advice.
3. If you disagree with your attorney, speak up. If you think the attorney is wrong, speak up and have a discussion. If you think the attorney is wrong too often, change attorneys.
4. Pay your bills on time. You wouldn't work for free. Your attorney doesn't like to work for free. Attorneys have overhead and living expenses, just like you and other business people.
5. Follow the court's order. You really make your life and your attorney's life more difficult if you ignore or violate court orders. If you don't like the order, talk to your attorney.
6. Don't expect your attorney to be a therapist. In Tarrant County, we actually have one very good attorney who is also a very good therapist, but that is a unique situation. You can't expect your attorney to solve your emotional issues, but the attorney can refer you to someone for therapy, as needed.
7. Be on time and get stuff done on time. Time limits are often very important in litigation. There can be major problems if you miss deadlines. Do your part to make sure things are done on time.
8. Have a clear picture of what you want. Of course, that's easy for me to say. In reality, you probably need to talk with your attorney to formulate what your goals and needs are, but your attorney needs to know what you are aiming for.
9. Don't listen to family and friends. Please. They mean well, but they don't know all the facts of your case, and the experience they draw on is different from your situation.
10. Remember — every divorce is different. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. You need to work closely with your attorney to plan and carry out your course of action. Don't assume that what happened in a friend's divorce will work in yours!
If you follow these suggestions, you should have a good relationship with your attorney. Good luck.