Ask almost any attorney about dealing with clients, and you’ll likely hear some version of “Can’t live with ’em. Can’t live without ’em.” Clients can be unresponsive, unreasonable, unrealistic, unreliable, immature, and downright ornery.
So, from me to you, a few tips to my future clients, to help me better represent you:
- Dress for court: This is not an Allman Brothers concert, people. Brush your teeth, Brush your hair, Wear your nice clothes. First Impressions count.
- Let me talk: Either you or the taxpayer is paying a tidy fee for my expertise, counsel and advocacy. I will ask what you want to do, but you can’t have an intelligent opinion before I advise you on your options. And for Pete’s sake, when we’re in front of the Judge, let me do the talking. It’s what I get paid for.
- Be reasonable: If you confessed to a serious felony, of which you have previously been convicted, which also has multiple eyewitnesses identifying you, don’t expect me to get you a quick and easy resolution of the case. If you mouth off to the judge or his staff, don’t be surprised when he does mean and nasty things to your bond. If you tell your probation officer where they can go, just pack your toothbrush.
Of course, attorneys have also been known to be unsympathetic, greedy, unreliable and dishonest, so it cuts both ways. While every successful personal or professional relationship requires effort from both parties, there are several steps that an attorney can take to forge a harmonious attorney-client relationship. Attorneys should be up front and realistic with clients about the realistic and possible outcome of their case. The fee structure and costs should be clearly spelled out in advance. Phone calls should be promptly returned. And above all, be honest.