Saturday, May 30, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions: lawyer-client relationship.

See - Frequently Asked Questions

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When do I need a lawyer? 

Many people believe they need an attorney’s services only to 
solve a problem or to get out of a difficult situation. Often‚ the best time to see an attorney is not when you are in legal trouble but before that trouble occurs. Preventive law is one of the most valuable services that a lawyer can perform. By eliminating potential problems, preventive law can save you time‚ money‚ and needless worry.

Lawyer Client Relationship

Can I handle my own legal problems?

It is not illegal for you to represent yourself in court or to handle your own legal matters. There are also "kits" and "forms" which some people use for such matters as getting a divorce or making a will. Judges and court personnel are not allowed to give you any legal advice as your case proceeds. Attorneys are trained to provide professional legal assistance to you‚ to be aware of all court procedures‚ filing requirements‚ deadlines‚ and other details that a non-attorney easily could overlook.
Can I change attorneys? 

You may discharge you attorney simply by informing him/her of your wishes. Giving notice is a matter of courtesy and may be necessary so that if a lawsuit has been filed‚ the attorney may ask for the court for permission to withdraw. Even if you discharge your attorney‚ you are still obligated to pay for any services which have been performed already on your behalf‚ and costs which have been incurred.
What should my attorney expect from me? 

Upon being retained as your legal counsel‚ your attorney should expect that you will: 

  • Be completely honest about all facts concerning your case‚ whether or not they are favorable to you.
  • Be on time for appointments and not take up an excessive amount of time with visits or phone calls relating to minor details or petty matters.
  • Take his/her advice.
  • Understand that no lawyer can guarantee results in a contested matter.
  • Be patient and understand that legal matters are rarely "open and shut" cases; they require time and research. 
  • Pay a reasonable fee for the work performed.
What should I expect when I hire an attorney? 

You are hiring an attorney to work for you‚ as your advocate. You should expect your attorney to: 
  • Confer with you to pinpoint the problem.

  • Research and analyze all available facts and information relating to your problem.
  • Interview those involved.

  • Negotiate a settlement if both sides can reach a fair agreement. 

  • Keep you informed about what is going on in your case and answer your questions.

  • Discuss fees with you at your first visit‚ and come to an agreement about the way in which the fee will be paid.

  • Be candid with you about your problem, your prospects for success‚ the time it will take‚ and the advisability of accepting any settlement offered. 

  • Keep in confidence anything you say.
What should I look for in an attorney? 

Some of things that you should look for in an attorney‚ include: 

  • The attorney’s reputation in the community.

  • The attorney’s experience with your type of legal problem (don’t hesitate to ask about this during your initial meeting.)

  • The attorney’s communications skills – willingness and ability to talk to you in a language you understand and to keep you informed about the progress of your case‚ responsiveness to your questions and concerns.
Let your attorney know at your first meeting that these qualities are important to you. 

Legal Fees

How do attorneys set their fees?
Legal fees are set and determined by an agreement or contract between the attorney and the client. The agreement as to what the attorney is to do and how much the client is to pay may be oral or in writing. The amount of the fee and the basis for the charge are determined by a number of factors: 

  • The amount of time spent on your problem 

  • The attorney’s ability, experience, and reputation 

  • The results obtained 

  • Overhead costs such as secretarial and para-professional assistance‚ investigators‚ and other personnel 

  • Your ability to pay 

  • The primary types of fee arrangements are: 

  • Hourly rate, in which the total fee is determined by the attorney’s hourly charge times the number of hours required to do the job. 

  • Fixed fee, in which a specific amount is agreed upon for a known service, such as divorce, bankruptcy, will, incorporation, contract, and defense of a criminal charge. 

  • Contingent fee, in which the attorney receives a percentage of an amount recovered on the client’s behalf. The client always is expected to pay any out-of-pocket expenses incurred in prosecuting the litigation. If no recovery is made‚ the attorney receives no fee. 

  • Retainer is merely a method by which the attorney is paid. This is when the client makes a "down payment" from which the charges that accrue as the work progresses are deducted.
Law and the Courts

What is the role of witness in court? 
A witness plays an important role in a court proceeding, providing valuable information about the matters under consideration. If you are subpoenaed as a witness in a trial‚ it is your duty to appear and testify. The lawyer who asks you to come to court can provide you with more specific information about your court appearance.
What if I do not know a lawyer?
Your right to legal counsel if you are arrested is a fundamental one in our country. You may retain a private attorney‚ or‚ if you cannot afford to do so‚ you should immediately contact the public defender’s office to represent you.
Should I have a lawyer with me? 

It is advisable to speak with a lawyer and have him/her with you when you appear in court. The judge must inform you of the charge against you and of your right to have a lawyer‚ if you do not have one. The judge must allow you a reasonable time to send for a lawyer‚ even to the point of postponing the hearing so that you can get one.
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