I went to get a bagel this morning after a hearing and ran into a guy with a story about "his lawyer." He had hired a friend of mine for a case in a practice area that I do not usually handle and he wanted to tell me about the great job his lawyer (and my friend) had done.
"He was great! He was not cheap but I got more than my money’s worth."
Just what had he done to inspire this testimonial? Here are the three things the client identified.
First – his lawyer really gained a complete understanding of the facts. This is always critical, and frankly, we sometimes fall down a little here. Lawyers get all wrapped up in "solving the problem" to the exclusion of really understanding the problem. Learn the facts first – then work on solving the legal problem.
Second – his lawyer interviewed each and every witness. Again, this was critical to the client because he wanted to know that his lawyer had actually talked to the people he had identified as witnesses. "And he did it himself," he told me. "He did not hire a private investigator." Much of the time lawyers balk at this "do it yourself" approach because we do not want to be a witness if the conversation is different than what we have been told, but still, this simple practice greatly impressed the client.
Finally – his lawyer worked with the client to lessen his fear of testifying at trial. This, he said, made it easy to tell the story to the court.
So there it is – stuff that every lawyer should do – but stuff that sometimes gets short shrift in practice. Was your experience like this? Did you leave feeling that the bill was worth the effort you received from your attorney? I hope so – and would love to hear about your experiences.