The Attorney-Client Relationship Part II: Arc of the Love Affair

We love our lawyers the day we hire them.  They seem smart and focused (or we would not have signed up).  But as time goes on, doubts and concerns slip in.  They don’t return our calls as fast as we would like, they misspell a name, in talking to them they don’t recall an important fact that we previously advised them about.

So here’s the deal:

If your lawyer is good, they have a lot of other things going on, a lot of other clients, and they are not necessarily preparing everything that goes out (they have staff/associates for that).  This isn’t what you should be focused on.  From the lawyer’s perspective, what matters is that they are staying on top of the case, and that you and they will be ready to peak when the critical events occur (mediation, trial, etc).

From the lawyer’s perspective, maintaining a comfortable attorney-client relationship is part of the challenge of handling the case.  For the lawyer, this is about maintaining an even keel.  Part of this has to do with client expectations (discussed below), but part of it is just staying in touch enough so that the client doesn’t feel (and in fact, isn’t being) neglected during those slow periods.

Cases go on and on.  Most major litigation matters continue for a least a year, often two or three years.   This means that there are times when the lawyer will be focussed on other matters s/he is handling.

At the end, the relationship should come together again.  When the case is mediated and/or tried, the lawyer should be everything you expect of them: focused, knowledgeable and confident.  They should be able to explain what is going on and why they are making the decisions that are being made.  They should have a well-conceived plan/a strategy.

And hopefully the result is consistent with your expectations, which is not necessarily everything you want, but at least close to what your attorney told you to expect.