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How to get the most out of your lawyer

Many people are nervous when they first meet with a lawyer, especially if they find themselves in an unfortunate situation. But the role of a lawyer is to be on your side and assist you with achieving the best outcome. Although you may have some reluctance to talk about your issues, your lawyer is there to help you and will need all the facts of the matter in order to give you the best advice to achieve your objective. Honesty and some forward planning will help you get the most out of your lawyer and keep your costs to a minimum.

Before your first meeting with a lawyer, prepare a chronology of events and send it to your lawyer:

Costs:
Think about how much you are willing to spend on legal costs in order to achieve the result you are seeking. Your lawyer will then be able to give you commercial advice regarding your desired objective.
Objective: Consider what your objective is. Is it to recover money from a debtor, bankrupt them or reach a resolution such as an apology or negotiated agreement? Your objective will affect the advice your lawyer gives you, so make sure it is clear to you both before proceeding.

Undertaking checks:
If you are seeking to recover a debt, you should first check to see if the debtor owns any assets and if it’s commercially viable for you to pursue them. Undertaking these checks before engaging your lawyer may help you avoid incurring unnecessary legal costs against a person you will not be able to recover money from. Your lawyer can also assist you with undertaking some searches.

Communications:
When communicating with your lawyer, try to address all queries in one email or phone call and provide sufficient detail to avoid multiple correspondences. Respond promptly to requests for instructions.

If you have an administrative question, consider contacting your lawyer’s assistant. This may help you avoid incurring the charge of a lawyer. If it is more appropriate for the lawyer to respond, your query will be forwarded.