Client-Attorney Relationships: Keys to a Good Start

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Developing a base relationship with an attorney who has your best interests in mind is a good idea before something critical happens. Attorneys in identified practice areas can assist us with estate planning, marital disputes and child custody, and personal injury. Chances are you will need an attorney at one point in your life, whether it be for a personal matter, or a business issue. The last thing you want is to be under pressure choosing an attorney with whom you are not comfortable.

There are some tools that will aid you in your research when seeking an attorney to assist you with a current issue, or to establish a relationship for a future issue. Many attorneys are sought through personal referrals, and it is a good idea to ask your friends and family if they have an attorney and if they have been pleased with the service provided by that attorney and firm. Some attorneys are called certified legal specialists, and have met minimum requirements based on experience, training and written examination to be certified in certain areas of law. Be sure that the attorney you choose is renowned for the area of law you need. A New York attorney who has a positive reputation and success rate for settling personal injury cases would be your choice over a law firm who is not established.

When you meet with your attorney for the first time, there are some important questions and issues you will want to cover:

  • Ask about their experience in the area where you are seeking assistance.
  • Ask what their rates are, and how billing is handled.
  • Ask how the attorney or firm will keep you updated and informed of progress regarding your case.
  • Ask if you will be working with an attorney or a paralegal.
  • Ask if they have been involved in any record settlements.

Attorneys often have legal fees and costs, and the way one firm is structured could be very different from another firm. It is a good idea to find out about fees and costs up front, so that there are no surprises when billing occurs. A fee refers to the amount you pay the lawyer for the time spent by those on his team working on your case. Cost and expenses are items above and beyond the base fees, such as postage, recording costs, or using a process server. You’ll want to find out if the attorney or firm bases their fees on hourly rates, contingencies, flat fees or retainers.

There are many ways that you can assist the attorney with your case, and items you will want to have on hand when the time comes for you to discuss a particular case or issue. Documentation regarding any information and persons involved including names, addresses and telephone numbers will be helpful. Keeping yourself organized means bringing letters, documents and other important papers to your meeting. Writing down a list of questions you have will save time on the part of both you and that attorney. Keeping your attorney informed, without excessive calling or emails, will also be key to your settlement.

The time to look for an attorney is now, so that you have a relationship developed before a tragedy occurs and you’re forced into a relationship without the proper research. If you or someone you know is seeking the advice of an attorney, or has a personal injury case that needs representation, a Manhattan law firm suited to personal injury will help you move forward.