Your Attorney And You

Your Attorney And You

Your Attorney And You – Closer to a Dating Relationship. Today’s guest blog is by LA Jewish Lawyer. The opinions expressed by the author in this and all guest blogs are not necessarily those of Marc J. Victor, P.C.

Having worked as a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer for more than Thirty-five (35) years, I am often asked questions by friends and former clients, about how best to manage the Attorney-Client relationship.  Although their questions never mirror the title of this article, my responses often do sound something like that.

When I say a “Dating Relationship,” I mean an important – at least in your mind – relationship, that takes on a special formality and structure.  Let me first offer a bit of a disclaimer:  I am a guy in my 60’s, somewhat old-fashioned and traditional.  Please forgive me for that, but do take into account that I am viewing this from a guy’s viewpoint.

Your Attorney And You

Your Attorney And You

Courtship” Example

Thinking back many years to the “courtship” that resulted in my marriage, here’s what I mean.  I thought about and considered “asking her out” for several weeks before I actually did.  In the meantime, I found excuses to stop by places where I knew she’d be, just to get acquainted.  When I did call her up to “ask her out,” I had a plan, meaning, I was able to suggest exactly the what, where, when and how.  We’d go to a restaurant – and I made a suggestion of which one – and set a time.  I took that arrangement and schedule very seriously, making sure not to change it or alter it, no matter what.  I made certain to arrive on time … “on-the-dot” on time, of course.

But I went even further.  I thought about options for after dinner, such as seeing a Movie.  No big deal, but what was a big deal, for me, at least, was that I checked all the theatres; and time schedules, so that I would know the options, and come across as smart and pro-active.  I even decided on what would be the best driving route between the restaurant and the theatres, and this was before “Waze,” “Fandango,” or even “Google Maps”!

Your Attorney And You

Attorney-Client Example

Before even hiring an attorney, give it some consideration, and think about it.  Do I really need an attorney, or can this matter be settled without an attorney?  Should I just contact my insurance company after an automobile accident, and let them handle it, or should I also contact the other driver’s insurance company?  How severe is my car damaged?  Whose fault was the accident?  Am I physically injured?

Having decided that I do really need an attorney, is there one that I’ve used before, or do my friends have a recommendation?  Should I go online?

Once I’ve decided that I will call an attorney, and once I have a particular attorney’s phone number; I should visualize in my mind how I want the relationship to be.  What percentage of a Contingency Fee am I willing to agree to?  How close does their office need to be to where I live?  How frequently will I need to meet with them at their office?  And how frequently will I want to meet with them?  Do I want a sole practitioner that may give me a lot of personal attention, or do I want a large law firm, with many different attorneys, and lots of staff?

When I finally do call up an attorney to hire them, I need to have a plan, meaning, I need to be able to suggest exactly the what, where, when and how.  I need to be able to clearly describe the automobile accident, and my car damage, and my physical injuries.

We’d meet at the attorney’s office – and I need to make a suggestion as to date and time.  I need to take that arrangement and the schedule very seriously, making sure not to change it or alter it, no matter what.  I need to make certain to arrive on time … “on-the-dot” on time, of course.  If I want my attorney to take ME seriously, I need to take MY ATTORNEY seriously!

Your Attorney And You

Once I’ve met with and retained (hired) my attorney, I need to establish a cordial, but the business-like relationship, based on mutual respect.  If my attorney requests that I write a few paragraphs describing the auto accident, I need to write those paragraphs.

It is an “Iron-clad” rule;  the more effort I put into the case, the more effort my attorney will put into my case.  No exceptions … that is an absolute rule.

I need to plan things out and keep a written list of questions to ask my attorney.  I need to sometimes put myself in my attorney’s shoes, and think of what questions my attorney may need to be answered, by me.

In a Personal Injury lawsuit, I need to think – in advance – about what terms I would agree to accept as a settlement.  For example, if my total Medical Expenses have added up to approximately Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000), I need to figure that my attorney will be able to settle those Medical Expenses for approximately Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000).

So, if we were to accept a One Hundred Thousand Dollar ($100,000) settlement offer, Twenty Thousand Dollars would go to the Doctors.  Of the remaining $80,000, my attorney (let’s assume for the sake of the example) would keep Forty Percent (40%), or $32,000.  That would leave $48,000 for me to take home.  Is that enough, to cover my Pain, Suffering, and Aggravation?  Maybe “yes,” maybe “no” … but the point is simply that I need to Plan Ahead and Think Ahead.

Your Attorney And You

As we all know, in a “DATING RELATIONSHIP,” we need to Plan Ahead, Think Ahead, and then Follow the Plan.

And now we know, that in an “ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP,” we also need to Plan Ahead, Think Ahead, and then Follow the Plan.