by Kristin Zurek, J.D. of Cordell & Cordell, P.C.
I always tell my new clients that we are a team. I tell him that we have to work together and present a united front and work towards the same goals in his case. To that end, I’d like to give you some tips to make the most out of your attorney-client relationship.
* Have your priorities outlined for your attorney. Tell them if property doesn’t matter to you – you just want to see your children every day. Tell them if you would prefer to keep your 401k in its entirety and you’d rather give her more out of the house. If your attorney knows what is most important to you in your litigation, he or she can keep that in mind when formulating your litigation strategy.
* Also provide your attorney with a written timeline or history of what got you to the point of litigation. They will want to know a history of your marriage, and how the relationship broke down. Be specific in your history as well. The more specific you can get with your timeline, the more specific your attorney can be with the Judge. The more specific you are, the more credible you look.
* Be honest with your attorney. We don’t judge. You need to be able to tell your attorney both the good parts and the bad parts about your case. Don’t be ashamed of the DUI or the recent failed drug test at work. It is better that your attorney knows about those “bad” parts of the case, so he or she can deal with them in the manner that is least hurtful to your case. You do not want your attorney to hear about these things from the opposing counsel. It damages your credibility, and could damage your case.
* Act with your attorney. Don’t make decisions, and then cause your attorney to react to your decisions. Good litigation puts the other side on the defensive. You don’t want your attorney to be on the defensive in your relationship with him. All it takes is a simple email or phone call of “Is it okay if I do this?” It keeps your attorney in the loop, and keeps your case on track.
* Be an active litigant. Gather your tax returns, your bank statements, your 401k statements and your credit card statements for your attorney up front. Get a list of witnesses with addresses and phone numbers together for your attorney. The more of an interest you take in your case, the stronger your case will be, and in the end, your attorney will be grateful for your work.
* If you don’t understand – ask questions. Attorneys oftentimes take for granted that clients understand the legal lingo we throw around on a daily basis. We also take for granted clients understand the court process. You should always know what to expect before you go to Court, and you should always know what your next steps are in your case. If you don’t know you need to ask your attorney.
These tips will help you and your attorney to be the cohesive team that you need to be to successfully litigate your case.
Kristin K. Zurek is an Associate Attorney and Litigation Manager in the Cordell & Cordell, P.C. office in St. Louis, Missouri. She has dedicated her practice exclusively to domestic litigation. Ms. Zurek is licensed to practice law in the state of Missouri.
Ms. Zurek began her career as a law clerk in a family law practice while attending law school. She has worked on many family law matters, helping clients to navigate the complex legal system and to successfully restructure their families while serving to advocate for her client’s best interests.
Read more about Ms. Zurek.