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Your Lawyer: A User's Guide

by Lawrence J. Fox and Susan R. Martyn
I am an unhappy camper. At $150 an hour my lawyer should be delivering better services than I'm receiving.

We are human. That means we strive for perfection in all our relationships but rarely succeed in achieving that goal. Your relationship with your lawyer is not any different. Lawyer and client should strive for bliss but when that is not the result, it is critical that the problems not be allowed to fester. As painful as it might be, they should be addressed.

A. Talk to Your Lawyer

In this part of the book, we have emphasized that you are entitled to an awful lot from your lawyer. And your lawyer is entitled to a fair amount from you. Each might disappoint the other. The key for you - our worthy client - is not to stew in silence, longing for a phone call from your busy advocate, resenting writing checks, uncertain your matter is receiving the attention it deserves.

Why should I have to start the conversation?

Remember, you are in charge. Discuss your concerns with your lawyer. We know it can be uncomfortable, that it takes guts to raise an unpleasant topic, and we know that lawyers often avoid these uncomfortable conversations as well. But long before matters get out of hand, long before the mention of your lawyer's name makes you cringe, you should muster the courage to bring up your concerns. And if you don't think you can do it face to face or over the telephone, write a letter or email, or, if your lawyer works at a firm, contact someone else at that firm to explain your feelings and start the search for a solution. You will be pleasantly surprised at how anxious your lawyer's firm will be to address your issues and turn you into a happy client. We can assure you the least expensive solution to being an unhappy client is talking to your lawyer or your lawyer's colleagues.


1. Will you please tell me about ____?
2. Have you made a mistake that will affect my case?
3. Why won't you do what I ask? (See sidebar Chapter 9).
4. Why does your fee differ from what I expected? (See sidebar Chapter 3)
5. What are my alternatives in this situation?
6. What steps will you take to remedy this situation?
7. When will you take this action?
8. Should I speak to your law firm colleagues about this?
9. Whom should I speak to?
10. Have other clients ever expressed the same concern?
11. What happens if I decide to find another lawyer?

Chapter 9: You and Your Lawyer Must Obey the Law »