CONSUMER INFORMATION CENTRE

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Get the Most Out of Your Lawyer and Your Case

The way you approach a legal problem or case can make all the difference to the experience and more importantly the outcome.

Follow the advice below to improve your result.

Don’t underestimate the value of your actions.

A good lawyer will make the best out of any case, but in most cases your actions will have the greatest influence on the result. To be frank, a lawyer is only as good as the case they have to argue.

Follow your lawyer’s advice about what you can do to improve your case. Your lawyer is not suggesting these things for the fun of it. The steps you can take might include undertaking a parenting course, counselling, drug testing, identifying witnesses, providing character references or doing a course.

Be motivated because it will make a difference.

Respect the law that applies to your case.

Once the facts are agreed or decided the law dictates the result. You can’t change the law and a Court must apply it. The law applies to us all whether we like it or agree with it.

You need to understand the law, so you can make the right decisions to achieve the best result with the assistance of your lawyer. It’s like understanding a problem before you can work out the solution.

Your lawyer should explain the law, how it applies and what might change the way the law applies in your case. Ask as many questions as you need to gain a clear understanding.

Provide complete instructions.

Lawyers hate surprises. The more accurate and complete your instructions are, the better prepared your lawyer will be. The more prepared your lawyer is, the better your case will proceed. This includes exploiting the helpful facts and managing the unhelpful.

The strictest rules of confidentiality apply to anything you tell your lawyer.

Ask lots (and lots) of questions.

A good lawyer will take the time to explain things clearly – the law and their advice. However, we can forget how strange the law and Court processes can be to non-lawyers. Sometimes, we take things for granted.

It’s your case and information is power. Make sure you have all the information you need. Make sure you understand all the information you need. In this context at least, there is no such thing as a stupid question.

You can avoid a lot of unnecessary stress by asking questions rather than leaping to dire conclusions.

Trust your lawyer or get another one.

Take the time to find the right lawyer to look after you and your case and then trust them to do so. Understand that any ethical lawyer has only one motivation, getting you the best result. A good and experienced lawyer will know the tricks to exploit and the pitfalls to avoid. Don’t ignore the expertise you are paying for.

This does not mean blindly accepting everything a lawyer says or advises. You should question or challenge anything that doesn’t sound right, but also listen to the explanation.

Not matter how stressful your situation is, communication to and from your lawyer should be civil and constructive.  Your lawyer is on your side.  If your lawyer tells you something you find upsetting, remember it is his/her job to tell you the truth.  It does not mean your lawyer does not believe or support you or that he/she isn’t committed to your case.  Don’t become sidetracked, focus on the fight with the other side.

However, if after all is said and done, you don’t trust your lawyer, it is time to look for a new one, because you must be able to work together.

If necessary, complain.

If there is a problem or you have a concern with your lawyer, let them know quickly. Give them a chance to explain or address the issue. It’s the most effective and efficient way to get things back on track.

You lawyer should respond quickly to any concern. If you don’t receive a response or you are still not happy look for a new lawyer without delay.

Behave with your lawyer as you should in court.

One of the best ways to prepare for a court appearance is to treat every meeting with your lawyer as if it were a rehearsal for a court appearance. If the comment, “Of course I wouldn’t say that in court”, applies then don’t say it at all.

Use your meetings to get into good habits and minimise the risk of blurting out something damaging out of an established bad habit.

You wouldn’t describe another party in disparaging or vulgar terms in court, so don’t do it with your lawyer.

Comply with court orders.

No one has every improved their position by disregarding or disobeying a court order. It’s the same as footballers and tennis players arguing with the umpire. Have you ever seen that achieve anything?

Not complying with court orders can cost you more than money, it can cost you your case. At the least it will result in more involved or additional court appearances.

Every court appearance costs money.

Put your emotions to one side, at least every now and then.

Any interaction with the law is stressful and often involves emotions and conflict. These are all important and relevant human reactions that can’t simply be ignored.

The best decisions in any case are made with the brain, not the heart. Cases are won and lost on calculated strategy not emotion.

In particular avoid the trap of focusing too much on what another party has done, is doing or might achieve from a case.

Instead focus on what you can do and what you stand to achieve.

Get support.

You are no good to yourself, your lawyer or your case if you are overcome with stress and anxiety or otherwise overwhelmed.

Engage with the support of family and friends. If need be, seek professional support.

Make sure you are best placed to get the best result.

Sometimes hardest of all, be realistic.

Be ambitious, be assertive, but don’t be unrealistic.

Know, understand and accept what is possible in your case keeping in mind there will usually be a range of possibilities and some things that are impossible.

Don’t waste time, money and emotional energy on attempting to achieve the impossible.

You won’t get there.

By definition.

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