By Melissa Caballero Alton, Esq.
Do you LOVE your attorney? Do you even LIKE your attorney? The truth is, I wouldn’t blame you if you said you felt, at best, uncomfortable, around attorneys because most people genuinely cringe at the idea of loving their attorneys. It’s not like your hairdresser, who makes you look beautiful every time you visit them, or even the guy at your favorite lunch spot, who knows exactly how many slices of deli meat you like on your sandwich and makes you a delicious meal every time. These are people you walk away from, beaming, and telling family and friends, “Wow, I love them!”
Attorneys, though? Not so much. Unfortunately, we get a terrible rap to begin with. There’s the whole misconception about us being greedy, selfish, power-hungry snobs, and while I am the first to admit that one bad apple spoils the bunch, I am also here to reassure you that we are not all the same. So today I write to you in the hope of persuading you that you don’t have to love your attorney, or even like your attorney, but it is possible to not-totally-hate your attorney, and you’ll be grateful when you do find that happy balance. Here are some reasons why you should keep an open mind, and an open heart, to hiring an attorney (that you may grow to love! Or, at least, not hate):
1. Plenty of Fish in the Sea
In the state of Florida alone, there are over 77,000 practicing, active attorneys. (Source: https://lawschooltuitionbubble.wordpress.com/original-research-updated/lawyers-per-capita-by-state/). That is a lot of fish to choose from if you’re in the market for a new attorney. You may feel obligated to hire the first attorney you find on Google, or the first one you meet with because you’re scared, your case may be well underway in court and you’re facing deadlines, or maybe you don’t think you’ll find another attorney who can handle your particular matter. However, it is in your best interest to shop around, meet and talk with as many attorneys as possible, and allow yourself time to make the most educated and well-informed decision you can make for your situation.
In addition to practicing and specializing in different areas of the law, every attorney has their own distinct style of practicing the law and you may prefer one attorney’s style over another. Referrals from friends and families are also highly useful when looking for an attorney and you should get as many testimonials as you can from those referring you. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations, even if it’s just a 15-30 minute phone call, and that initial meeting with the attorney is the perfect opportunity for you to decide if you feel comfortable enough to place your life, your business, your lawsuit, or whatever legal dilemma you might be facing in this attorney’s hands. When you’re ready to sign that Retainer Agreement, you should do so knowing that you have done your due diligence and research in choosing the right attorney for you, which can pave the way for a successful, positive relationship moving forward.
2. Communication is Key
As in any successful relationship, communication plays a crucial role on both parties getting the most of out their partnership. In addition to confidentiality between an attorney and her client, you should feel comfortable enough to communicate freely and openly with your attorney, about your legal matter and any related topics. If you prefer to speak in your native language, for example, Spanish or Portuguese, then you should endeavor to find an attorney who is fluent in that language to facilitate your communication throughout their handling of your case. Perhaps you are always traveling and don’t have access to a steady phone line and prefer to communicate via text message or email – this is something you need to ensure from the beginning that your attorney is open and willing to commit to in order to ensure you’re both able to communicate fluidly throughout your relationship.
However you decide to communicate with your attorney, the more open you are with your attorney, the smoother the case will progress. By telling your attorney exactly how you want your case to move forward, the strategy you’d like to undertake, and the final outcome you envision, you’re helping foster a positive relationship with your attorney that will only benefit your partnership and success in your legal matter.
3. It’s better to have loved and lost
Perhaps ones of the reasons why people may say they don’t like attorneys is because sometimes they feel like they were somehow gipped. This is especially true in litigation cases where clients are facing lawsuits with varying factors and an unpredictable outcome. Unlike the guy at your favorite lunch spot, an attorney cannot guarantee their clients that they will walk away from their office with the most delicious sandwich they have ever tasted. As attorneys, we can’t guarantee that there will even be enough bread to make you a sandwich that day, let alone how it will taste. I fear this metaphor may have run away from me now, but the point is: regardless of the outcome of your case, whether it’s in litigation or a transactional business matter, you, as the client, are always better served and in a better position if you hire a competent, skilled, experienced attorney to represent you. The whole point of hiring an attorney is to allow them to advise you on what you don’t know: the law. If you are served with a lawsuit and you have never stepped foot inside of a courtroom, then you will be far better served by a litigation attorney, who goes to court multiple times a week and is comfortable with the rules of procedure and applicable laws that help your case. Therefore, it truly is better to have loved (your attorney, hopefully), and lost, even if that was not the ultimate vision you had for your particular case or legal matter, than to never have hired an attorney to begin with. Chances are that if you were well represented, yet still had to reach some sort of compromise at the end of the day, then you resolved your legal dispute based on sound legal advice from your attorney who only wants what is best for you, as their client. Because the truth is that your attorney probably (though I can’t guarantee), likes you and at the very least, wants what’s best for you. So trust her and know that you made the right decision in hiring them to represent you.
Our attorneys go out of their way to build lasting, committed relationships with our clients, and with Alton Law, you know you are on the Alton Road to a Brighter Tomorrow.