In the first part of this three-section discussion of an effective divorce attorney-client relationship, meaningful communication was discussed. In this second installment, the concept of professionalism, as it relates to both attorney and client, is explored.
Professional responsibility is a concept attorneys study as students. As an overall concept, professionalism is something we consider when engaging in work relationships, and interactions that are not personal in nature. However, this concept deserves review as it is often overlooked during the stress and turmoil in family law matters.
The first place to look for professionalism is from the initial interaction. As a potential client, you want your future attorney to look and act the role he or she serves. Is the attorney dressed neatly? Appears organized? Greets you courteously? Is timely? Addresses your questions to the best of her or his ability?
As a potential client, you may not be presenting as your best, put-together self, which is fully understandable. As the adage in family law goes, “often the best people are on their worst behavior.” Your case may be highly stressful or emotional. You may be angry, confused, or scared.
While sifting through the various emotions and concerns about your life, there are a few points to keep in mind when considering your role as the client and interacting professionally with an attorney.
First, he or she will never have all the answers – ever. Absolutes are difficult in most scenarios; the law is certainly no exception. You may experience frustration if you press your attorney for guarantees, as a wise attorney often, is not able to do so. Instead of pressing for promises, try to weigh the information and advice provided by counsel and to ask questions about what you do not understand.
Secondly, understanding the roles of the attorney and a client serve is important to professional development. An attorney is charged with making legal decisions with respect to a case and discussing with client. However, the client has autonomy to make a decision as to the outcome. For example, whether or not a proposed settlement is accepted or not, is one of the decisions made by the client upon the advice of the attorney. The client knows best as to the everyday particulars of his or her life, while the attorney assists with navigating the legal aspects.
Attorneys should strive to be civil and courteous with the attorney representing your spouse as well. Attorneys often have to work together on many cases and are colleagues. Therefore, civility is a form of professionalism and should be observed. By the same token, all parties and attorneys should be respectful to the judge or referee when they are in court.
Additionally, both the attorney and client need to consistently recognize they work on the same side. Being disrespectful, demanding, and aggressive is not helpful to the relationship. An attorney needs to be mindful of the stress and pressure on the client – being compassionate and empathetic is essential. Clients, in turn, need to recognize that while their individual matters are important to attorneys, lawyers are often juggling multiple matters. If your attorney does not immediately return a call or email there is generally a very good reason why. A good attorney will get back to the client in a reasonable amount of time.
Overall, the theme of courtesy and respect cannot be stressed enough and is often easily overlooked, especially since parties in a divorce matter may not be respecting each other at all. However, the relationship between the attorney and client is a sacred one. It’s confidential and premised on honesty. An attorney is generally not your friend but a skilled professional entrusted by you to help matters of a legal nature. Both the client and lawyer need to treat each other accordingly and remember to work together.
At Findling Law, we value our clients and are honored to represent you. If you are in need of a professional, prepared attorney, contact our office for a free consultation.
About Findling Law
Findling Law, PLC – 414 W. 5th St. Royal Oak, Michigan 48067
I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles. We are compassionate, creative and always prepared. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.
By: Daniel Findling