41fxbikvjql_sl160_.jpgLike it or not, more and more people find themselves in need of obtaining the time and service of lawyers and, as they say, time is money. Not only that, substantive rights are often on the line as clients deal with life and death matters from wills and trust to contracts and real estate to custody issues and divorce.  So, how do you deal with the lawyer or lawyers who work the front line on your life battles?

Authors Lawrence Fox and Susan Martyn set out a setp-by-step guide in “How to Deal with Your Lawyer: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions.”  This is a resource to guide you through the entire process. In this quick-read guide, the authors present you with the information you need to know about the ethical obligations of your lawyer in a straight-forward and easy to read format.

How to Deal With Your Lawyer answers questions necessary to make you an informed consumer of legal services such as:

  • Where do I go to find a lawyer, the yellow pages, the television ads, the courthouse?
  • How do I know the right questions to ask about their qualifications, fees, or what to expect?
  • Is everything I say confidential?
  • What if something goes wrong?

Punctuated by a series of cartoons from the New Yorker, you’ll learn about every lawyers favorite topic, how lawyers get paid.  The book also elaborates on the unique rules that govern lawyer-client interactions — the 4 C’s of a lawyer’s fiduciary duty (Communication, Competence, Confidentiality, and Conflicts of Interest).

In later chapters, the authors also address key questions you should ask your lawyer throughout your legal process. Discover your lawyer’s role and position within the legal system and how they work within the laws to be your best advocate (Chapter 9).  Particularly important, the guide discusses how to deal with lawyers on the opposing side and how to know if a lawyer is really your lawyer (Chapter 10). And, it doesn’t hurt to know how to evaluate your legal representation, even when you lose (Chapter 11).

While not a John Grisham novel, this book can prepare you for work a little better, informing you of the many difficult bumps you may encounter. After reading this book, you’ll not only approach your case with a new knowledge, but with confidence that your lawyer is fighting for you because you asked all the right questions and knew the answers.

The book is manageable in size but is thick with information that can make for slow reading.  On the upside, there are pages upon pages of useful information for anyone engaging the services of lawyers.  Many of the tips are very practical, including a section Victory Is Not The End. In preparing the reader for the realities of law, is sets out:

Q:  I’ve got everything I want.  The jury came in with a verdict of $75,000 and $150,000 in punitive damages.  I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my lawyer and settle for $100,000.

A:  You still may want to settle.

Q:  After such a victory?

A:  Even with a satisfying jury verdict, you may want to compromise.  As the say, there are many slips twixt the cup and lip.  With that large a verdict, the other side will surely [request] that the judge set the verdict aside.  Then there are  appeals.

We recommend anyone involved in heavy legal wrangling pick up a copy of this handbook.

Lawrence J. Fox is a partner of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and the former chairman of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.  Professor Susan R. Martyn is a faculty member of University of Toledo and teaches Torts, Legal Ethics and Bioethics.

How to Deal with Your Lawyer: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions (Oxford University Press, USA) is available from Amazon.

  Print This Post Print This Post  

Comments are closed.