Talking to a lawyer to get legal advice can be a daunting task. Lawyers can be short in their conversation, stern in their tone, and pointedly direct in their questioning. This can intimidate even the boldest of the bold, but it shouldn't. A little understanding of lawyers helps explain why they act the way they do. Here is a bit of this explanation and some tips for talking with lawyers about legal questions.
Lawyers earn their living by selling their time. At any given time, any one lawyer will usually have multiple projects for multiple clients. Time spent waiting for a client to arrive, is time lost. This usually happens when the lawyer is not able to begin working on another project if the client is expected to arrive any moment. This directly impacts the law firm's earnings if he is not able to spend the time working on another project.
Given the high expenses lawyers must pay (such as legal advertising costs, expert costs, legal research costs, etc.), lawyers are very sensitive to time issues. This is particularly true for lawyers who spend a lot of time in court, as litigation lawyers spend their days trying to meet strict deadlines. The courts often sanction lawyers for missing deadlines. Lawyers are used to this treatment and they may have the same expectations for clients.
Punctual clients are good clients. This means clients who arrive early, who are patient, and who are flexible. This also means clients who promptly call to reschedule meetings. This courtesy allow the lawyer to plan out their day, which makes them more profitable and more effective at their craft.
Lawyers spend their time researching, writing, talking with others about legal issues, and talking with prospective and actual clients about legal issues. The first four tasks are often time intensive and viewed by lawyers as being mandatory to achieving appropriate legal results in cases.
One might think lawyers would love to spend hours talking with and billing clients for providing legal advice rather than doing the legal work, but this may not be the case. There is a balancing act whereby lawyers are expected to deliver results, and spend time with clients explaining the law. The attorney who spends too much time talking with clients may he has too little time to work on delivering the desired result. This puts added stress on lawyers.
Thus, unfortunately, talking with clients is often viewed by the lawyer as a distraction. This is especially true if the client is not prepared to discuss their legal questions when they meet with the lawyer. Clients should review the facts and any evidence they have prior to meeting with their lawyer. This also means having any documentation in order and ready to be reviewed. This will help the lawyer communicate effectively, yet briefly. This too makes the lawyer more profitable and effective at their craft.
Lawyers are also officers of the court, in addition to being businessmen. The lawyer needs to find and prosecute meritorious claims. This helps the lawyer earn a living and build a solid reputation. As lawyers filter prospective clients and client claims, it is often necessary for the lawyer to ask the hard questions. Client sensitivities should be set aside if at all possible. This can allow the lawyer to get to the heart of the matter and craft defenses or strategies for any harmful or difficult issues from the start. It is often better to discard void legal theories up front, so the lawyer can focus on the pertinent legal theories that will produce the desired results. Clients who are prepared to answer these difficult questions up front can prove to be invaluable in this regard.