When you take your car to the mechanic, you depend on their knowledge and ability to analyze the problem. But you still expect them to describe what the issue with your vehicle is and recommend a repair before proceeding. After all, it’s your car and your money at stake. You should have a say in what happens.
It’s the same thing when you have a legal problem. Your attorney has the legal knowledge and experience to understand the issue and come up with multiple viable solutions. (At least, they are supposed to.) But if they don’t explain these factors to you, answer your questions and proceed according to your directions, the chances of mistakes and a poor outcome to your case are good.
At its best, the attorney-client relationship is a two-way street. The client explains their problem, the lawyer responds with analysis and advice, and the client decides how to proceed based on that information and opinion. This back-and-forth clear communication between attorney and client gives the client the best possible chance of a result that they can be satisfied with. Otherwise, an attorney with no clue what their client wants or needs is likely to do something that is not in the client’s best interests — in other words, commit legal malpractice.
Four ways attorneys practice good communication
Some ways an attorney can ensure good communication with their clients include:
- Avoid legalese. Most clients, even well-educated ones, don’t understand legal jargon commonly used by attorneys, judges and others in the legal field. Instead, use simple, clear language.
- Make sure the client is still on the same page. Slow down at every phone call and in-person meeting to make sure they remember what has happened already and what to expect coming up.
- Answer the client’s questions thoroughly.
- Respond to the client’s emails, voice mails, text messages, etc., promptly. Send them regular updates.
An attorney who does not do these things is not treating your case with the care and attention it deserves. If you believe a breakdown in communication is to blame for how your legal matter ended up, consult a legal malpractice attorney.