Talking to lawyers can be difficult. We speak a different language and most lawyers have trouble making legal concepts understandable to clients. Further, most clients worry about things that the lawyer views as minor or irrelevant—sometimes that’s true, sometimes it’s not.
Further, everyone has different preferences as to how often they want to hear from their lawyer. You may want to talk to your lawyer every week, another client may want to hear from his lawyer only when necessary.
When hiring a lawyer you should ask about how they communicate and you should tell your lawyer how you like to be communicated with. Many people become frustrated with the lawyer for not communicating with them “properly” yet they have never shared their expectations about communicating.
The problem is further compounded by the lawyer not discussing what to expect in your lawsuit. Where a client may expect a lawsuit to be wrapped up in a month or two, the lawyer knows the case is likely to take a year or two. Where a lawyer is used to seeing false statements and rhetoric in legal pleadings, clients find false statements in court papers alarming. Where a lawyer knows there will be a fight in trying to obtain evidence from the other side even before discovery begins, the client is shocked when the opposing attorney refuses to hand over relevant information. The list goes on.
When you are confused about what is happening in your legal case, ask your lawyer if this is typical, and then ask for a description of what is occurring and how best to respond. In most cases, even the most frustrating situation will be resolved eventually. You can be guaranteed that whatever you are encountering will take longer and cost more than you like. That’s litigation in California. But there is an end in sight. All legal cases must end sooner or later…or much later.
Communication between lawyer and client can be challenging, but the more you express your expectations when it comes to communication, the better.