Managing Your Lawyer
This is your divorce and you are responsible for managing your process. Educating yourself on the divorce laws of your state, getting emotional support when you need it and staying on top of the actions your attorney is taking on behalf of you are all equally important components.
You don’t have to be a legal professional to know what to expect from a lawyer, but you do need to be aware of what their limitations are. Here are some points to keep in mind.
What should I expect from my attorney?
- To advocate competently and zealously for your interest.
- Keep you informed about the progress of your case.
- Give clear answer to your questions.
- Return your phone calls within a reasonable amount of time.
- Have good listening skills.
- Note: Your attorney is not a financial advisor or a therapist.
How can I get the most out of my attorney?
- Be on time for appointments.
- Reschedule or cancel well in advance.
- Bring whatever information or documents your attorney has requested.
- Write out your questions before phoning or visiting.
- Use the secretary or receptionist for basic information like how to get to the courthouse and schedules of appointments and court dates.
- Listen carefully to what your attorney tells you.
- If you are not ready to decide or act, tell the attorney you will think about it and call back.
- Avoid bringing children to the lawyer’s office.
- Limit your conversations to discussions of legal rights and options. If you need supportive services, ask your attorney to help you find a trained therapist or counselor.
- Keep a telephone log of all calls between you and your attorney and you and your spouse with summaries of each.
What if I am dissatisfied with my attorney?
If you decide your attorney is not acting in your best interest before you go to trial, you pay what you owe up to that point and engage another attorney. After you go to trial, the process is more difficult. Be sure to discuss fees in detail before you hire the attorney and review each bill. If you feel you are being overcharged, you can take your concerns to professional organizations of attorneys. If you feel your attorney is being unethical, you can file a complaint with the Lawyers Disciplinary Agency, which has offices in every state. For more information about handling problems with your attorney, visit http://lawyers.com. Screening attorneys before you choose one will help you avoid such problems.