Lawyers are the professionals you hire when you are working on the nuts and bolts of your life. Litigation lawyers are the ones you hire when those nuts and bolts in your life go bad.
Here are a few points to remember.
1. Read your retainer letter carefully.
2. Re-read the retainer letter so that you will understand what your attorney needs.
3. Sign the retainer letter.
4. Send the signed retainer letter and the check for the retainer to your attorney so he can start working on your case.
5. Pay your bills on time. Do not try to renegotiate the cost of the litigation as soon as you see the bill.
6. Turn over any and all materials related to the case. Do this as soon as he asks for them. The more information he has starting out and the sooner he gets it, the better he can help you.
7. Search for more information you think might be relevant. Just because he didn’t ask for it does not mean it’s not important.
8. Don’t surprise him with additional material or changes in your testimony at deposition or trial.
9. Don’t make him guess what information and documents you have.
10. Be completely honest with him throughout the case.
11. Give him a cast of characters with all contact information and your assessment of whether or not they are on your side.
12. Make a list of all the people who will testify against you.
13. Prepare a timeline with key events highlighted.
14. Return his calls in a timely manner.
15. Tell him when something new has come up in the case. Let him know when you have found more papers you need to turn over.
16. Call him when you have questions. If he cannot talk to you when you call, schedule a time to call him back. Leave a message with your questions on your case, either on his voicemail or with his associate/paralegal. That way he can be prepared to answer them when you call back.
17. When you turn over the materials, make sure you keep a copy for yourself. If you need to keep the originals, then scan the documents and email them to him.
18. Tell your attorney whenever you will be unavailable for a scheduled deposition. Do this as soon as possible to give him time to change deposition or hearing dates.
19. Make time to meet with him for any and all preparation sessions.
20. Make time to answer any questions he has when he reviews your materials.
21. When you meet with your attorney to prepare for depositions or trial, he will ask you to review materials he has gathered throughout the case. Make time to review these materials. They are important. They represent a lot of thought the attorney has made on what questions the other side will ask you. You must get comfortatble with how to answer the questions the other side will ask. If you have any questions when you are reviewing the material, call him and ask.
22. Do not answer questions that are not asked at your deposition. Don’t volunteer information.
23. More importantly, never volunteer information that you never discussed with your attorney.
24. Do not tell your attorney how he should conduct the case once the case goes to trial. You hired him because you wanted his litigation skills. Let him do his job.
25. Continue to be completely honest with him throughout the case.
26. After the case is over, thank your attorney by paying his bill as soon as he sends it to you.
The litigation lawyer is the one who will work very hard to protect your reputation, business, contractual obligations and peace of mind. Remember, when you help him, you help yourself.