Trust me I’m a lawyer – a cliché, but no less true for that transparency is the bedrock of any relationship. Whether you’re hiring a plumber or choosing a doctor, if you don’t have transparency you will never have trust.
Engaging a lawyer is no different. If there has been a breakdown in communication and understanding then you will never have a relationship of trust.
Clear and honest communication must flow both ways. A lawyer can only properly represent you if he or she has all the information they need ‘warts and all’. Similarly, your lawyer must put you in a position to make informed decisions about your case.
There is a tendency towards elitism in law (as with many other professions). You would hope that your lawyer knows more about the law than you do, but that does not give them a blank cheque to act as they want. Before you can apply ‘the Law’ you need ‘the Facts’. No-one knows the facts of your case better than you (at least initially).
There are real consequences when you leave the decision-making to your lawyer. A lawyer can’t tell you how much risk you should take on any more than a surgeon can tell a patient whether she should undergo life threatening surgery. Different people have different values and different attitudes to risk. Your lawyer’s case strategy should be designed to reflect your circumstances and your views. A lawyer, like the surgeon, can make recommendations. He can’t put himself in your shoes.
If your lawyer isn’t listening to you, if he is making decisions about which you have no information, if you don’t understand what is happening in your case or why, you need to give your lawyer a kick up the rear end. It is your case and (just as with surgery) you wear the consequences if it goes wrong.
Written by Alexander Morrison