How you deal with your client and opposing counsel sets the tone, and is often a crucial factor in the overall outcome of the case. Most people who have the misfortune of
being a party to a lawsuit initially look for an advocate who is aggressive and willing to do whatever it takes to WIN! Few litigants consider that, in some cases, “winning” means “settling” the case
before it comes to trial. Settlement at the proper stage of the case reduces the ultimate cost of the litigation, but also means that no one walks away with everything they want. Aggressive tactics
are not always effective in litigation, and seldom appropriate in settlement negotiations. My approach is simple, a command of current law, coupled with the ability to persuade the opposition to see
the weaknesses in their position, as well as the strengths of my client’s case, which is the key to success. I encourage the client to become actively involved, particularly if finances are limited.
Clients who are willing to do the “leg work,” allowing the attorney to focus on the legal issues, can substantially reduce the costs and fees typically incurred by litigants. For those clients who
prefer to have full-service representation, this firm regularly employs the services of independent paralegals who provide litigation support services at a fraction of the cost, allowing us to pass
on additional savings to the client. Although attorneys are required to keep their clients informed, you should not expect to be apprised of every detail of the cas, and be charged for it. If you
need “hand-holding” you should probably look elsewhere. Calling an attorney repeatedly to discuss the case will increase the client’s costs and fees unnecessarily. Frankly, I would prefer to resolve
your legal problems, than spend time preparing a bill for writing a letter explaining why I haven’t returned your phone call to tell you I have nothing to report at this time. For quick answers to
legal questions, or to reduce costs for established clients, I have activated a “900” advice line for customers calling from specific areas serviced by ATT, allowing callers to speak directly to the
attorney at a special reduced rate, charged directly to their telephone bill. As you can see, my approach is a bit unorthodox, but effective.
Each case presents a unique set of facts, which must be presented clearly and in the most favorable light to one’s client. Because the law is so complex, attorneys rarely
have the time or the inclination to educate the client, and the failure to do this is sometimes fatal to the case. The best advocate is not only one who knows the law and can articulate well, but
most importantly, one who listens well. What your client fails to tell you is often ultimately more important that what you already know about the case. Too frequently, a case turns on the
credibility of witnesses—in other words, who and what the jury will believe. No attorney wants to be surprised, especially by a client on the witness stand.
The best policy is to fully disclose the facts to your attorney at the outset of the case, so you waste no time or money trying to overcome an otherwise avoidable obstacle. If you don’t feel
comfortable enough to tell your attorney everything, you need another attorney. The instant an attorney stops believing in his client or his case---GAME OVER! Remember that each case has a unique set
of facts. Do not expect the same strategy, the same outcome, or the same amount of money your friend or relative got, or you heard about on the eleven o'clock news--even if you hear it from another
lawyer, unless that attorney has seen your case file, or has personal knowledge of all the specifics.
When an attorney agrees to “represent” the client, he or she will be doing more than just giving advice, preparing a legal document, or appearing in court. Once the
attorney is formally “of record” in the matter, he or she has made a commitment to render legal and professional services and do such things as are necessary and proper to prosecute or defend any and
all claims of the Client, with the degree of knowledge and skill possessed by other attorneys in the community, under the same or similar circumstances. The client makes a commitment to cooperate
with the attorney’s efforts, and to pay for his time and costs incurred on the client’s behalf, either in advance as a “retainer,” when presented with a bill, or after the attorney secures some money
for the client by way of a verdict or settlement. The next time you are tempted to criticize lawyers, our tactics, our competence, or our fees, remember that you hired that attorney because you
needed someone who had spent years in the library, making countless sacrifices, to acquire the knowledge, skill and experience for the privilege of protecting or asserting your civil liberties.
After 25 years of solving legal problems, often devoting years of time working for clients with only a hope of some compensation at the end, and frequently, securing a favorable outcome for the
client, I still awaken each day with enthusiasm, a love of the law, and a respect for the American justice system, sufficient to do it all over again. Call me crazy, but count your blessings when you
need an advocate. That’s commitment!