How To Talk to a Lawyer

Lawyers are often seen as necessary evils in a civil society with oppressive and manipulative laws or essential social engineers who play an important role in the establishment of the rule of law, of upholding democratic principles and assist in enforcement of law and justice in a society and thereby assist in keeping it away from anarchy and turmoil. Others see lawyers as opportunist mercenaries taking advantage of the fact that the masses are disinterested in the interpretation and enforcement of the law and thereby rely upon a lawyer (since they can afford one) to make sense of it all and ensure the citizen-client is on the right side of law? However you wish to view a lawyer, if you are hiring one then it is in your own interest to know how to talk to a lawyer so that it is worthwhile of the time and money spent by you, not to miss the stakes of your case. So, here are some tips on how to talk to a lawyer.

  1. First, do not assume the law or the potential outcome of your case. Instead, strive to be lucid, articulate in your thinking and clearly express the facts of the case for which you approach the lawyer.
  2. Try your best and take an independent, objective and third-party approach to your legal problem. If you know clearly what your problem is, then prepare a note on your case, document all findings and evidence and carry them with you for meeting your lawyer.
  3. I have always known good lawyers to recommend to their clients that a chronology of events must be maintained and submitted to the lawyer along with the facts and evidence. The facts should be laid out in the chronological order. The documents, information and evidence must be arranged in the orderly fashion, preferably corresponding to the chronology of events and actions.
  4. Always try and submit copies. Do not burden your lawyer with the task of safe-guarding original documents on your behalf, unless of course, you are paying him separately for that purpose.
  5. Be articulate, precise, speak in chronological order, present facts and not opinions and try not to present your thoughts or ideas on provisions of the law - remember that you have chosen the lawyer since he is an expert in the field and not you.
  6. Do not hide, suppress or misrepresent facts, be truthful. Do not form opinions and do not use legal jargon if you are not sure what it means - Do any of these and you could only be (i) ill-preparing or misleading your lawyer (ii) jeopardizing your own interest and possibly confusing your lawyer on the actual facts and circumstances of the case. Wise men say one does not lie to a lawyer, an accountant or doctor.
  7. If asked to provide additional material or information, make sure to do so in a timely manner and keep to schedules you agree on with your lawyer.

Once you follow these, then getting your work through a lawyer should be quite easy.


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