Posted 10 months ago
Just Hire a Lawyer? Here Are 10 Helpful Client Tips
Know what your goals are. Surprisingly, often parties enter into litigation without having a clearly defined measure of success. By defining what you want to accomplish before starting a lawsuit, it will be easier to assist you in accomplishing that goal. This is true, whether it be monetary relief or having the other party take a specific action.
Understand the non-monetary costs of litigation. Litigation can be expensive, not only in terms of legal fees and costs, but in terms of the time it requires you spend on it and the emotional stress it can create. Cases sometimes settle, because one side has simply worn the other out. Be sure that you are ready to go through the process to achieve your desired results.
Have realistic time expectations. The wheels of justice do turn, but often not as quickly as clients would like. Discuss likely time frames with your attorney, so that you can be mentally prepared for the time your case will take.
Be prepared to share information with the other side. The discovery process by which parties can request information from each other is often frustrating to clients. In Florida, discovery is very broad allowing opposing parties to request information that is relevant to the lawsuit, even if that information itself is not admissible. So when you ask your attorney, can they really ask me for that, the answer is generally, “yes, yes they can.”
Consider what information the other side may have that you want access to. The more assistance you can provide your attorney as what the other sides knows or should have access to, the better he or she will be able to assist you in preparing your case for trial.
Agree on communication expectations. Some clients want frequent updates, others only want to be notified if they are required to take action. Discuss your expectations with your attorney and agree on a way to handle them so that you get the amount of communications you desire. Also discuss whether email, phone, or text messages are appropriate ways to communicate.
Don’t lose your temper. Keeping your emotions in check is always important. Many times litigation involves issues that are very personal and life altering. But if you allow your emotions to rule you, that can be the only thing people remember about your case. Whenever possible, try to maintain a calm demeanor. As always there are exceptions to every rule, and perhaps that will the topic of another post.
Attend opposing party depositions. Again, no one will ever know your case as well as you do. By attending depositions, you may hear something that triggers a memory you had forgotten to tell your attorney about. When this happens, you can write a note and inform your attorney at a break, so that they can follow up on the information and ensure it is used to support your case.
Consider the option of mediation. My favorite quote from a mediator is “today is the best opportunity for you to determine the outcome of your case. After today, your case will be determined by a judge or a jury and will no longer be in your control.” While, cases do settle after mediation has taken place, the point is valid. At mediation, the parties and not someone else are making the decision about how to resolve their dispute.
Look presentable at court. This is true whether you are going to be a witness or just observing the proceedings. It may not sway anyone to your favor because you are nicely dressed while in court, but dressing slovenly or disrespectfully can hurt your chances of winning. Since it is easy to avoid creating a negative impression, make an effort to be properly dressed.
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