In any professional engagement, accountability is critical, and legal representation is no exception. While a lawyer might come highly recommended and possess a wealth of experience, this doesn’t always guarantee the desired outcomes. So, how can you ensure your lawyer delivers on their promises and makes tangible progress on your case? This article will guide you through holding your legal counsel accountable.
1. Establish Clear Objectives and Expectations
Before the attorney-client relationship begins, it’s crucial to establish the scope and objectives of your legal matter. Are you looking for a quick settlement or willing to go to trial? These decisions will shape the strategy your lawyer adopts.
Similarly, ask your lawyer what you can realistically expect in terms of timelines, costs, and outcomes. Make sure these expectations are articulated in a written agreement.
Recommendation: Understanding Legal Fees: What to Expect and How to Budget
2. Consistent Communication
Communication is the cornerstone of accountability.
Request regular updates on the progress of your case. These could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, based on the complexity and duration of your legal matter.
Lawyers are often busy, but a failure to communicate can be a red flag. If emails or calls go unanswered for an unreasonable time, it might cause concern.
3. Milestone Tracking
Breaking down the case into smaller tasks and setting milestones can make it easier to track progress and expenditure.
Review these milestones regularly. Delays can happen but should be justifiable and communicated to you in advance.
4. Transparency in Billing
An accountable lawyer should be able to provide transparent billing that itemizes services rendered, time spent, and any additional costs like court fees or expert witnesses. Scrutinize the bills and question any discrepancies.
5. Periodic Reviews
Conduct periodic reviews to evaluate whether the legal services align with the objectives and expectations. If there are consistent gaps, it may be time to have a frank discussion with your lawyer.
Recommendation: 8 Benefits of Hiring Lawyers through a Digital Platform
6. Exercise the Exit Option
Ethical codes bind lawyers to allow clients to terminate their services if unsatisfied, as long as it doesn’t harm the client’s legal position. Don’t hesitate to use this option if it becomes clear that your lawyer isn’t living up to your expectations.