When dealing with a smaller law firm, you will see the attorney and you will have more contact with them than you will in a big firm. In our firm, you will be able to talk to me quite often but in most big firms, you will not meet the attorney until you walk into the courtroom or sign the will or the trust documents.
I used to work for a 17th Street Denver Law Firm. I know from experience that when a case comes in, the majority of the work is done by paralegals and lower associates, and then a partner comes in and finishes it. That’s not the case in most small firms. Here, everybody including the paralegal, the attorney, and any other support staff, they’re all working together on your case as a team.
I left that big firm background in no small part because it’s such a different culture, and because I prefer direct contact with my clients. At the largest firms, there is no focus on relationship building unless you are among the richest clients who support the firm. Most clients who use the firm, even quite frequently, are not going to get that kind of treatment, access, or direct communication.
Communication, as we mentioned in a previous chapter, remains the heart of the attorney-client relationship.
What Successful Client-Attorney Communication Looks Like
Good communication between an attorney and their client is something you can work to establish at the outset. The pace, rhythm, and nature of that communication are up to us to define together based on your needs.
Some clients want to have a report every week, and that’s perfectly fine. They understand that they are going to be charged for that level of communication even though some weeks, nothing is going to happen in the case.
Other clients prefer only to be notified any time something changes in the case. And that is fine as well.
Many clients want to just be able to call when they have questions, and I think that that is perfectly appropriate.
So there needs to be an understanding at the outset, of what kind of communication you want, and an agreement reached as to how that will work. Do you prefer to contact the paralegal and set up a phone conference? Prefer to send questions and receive answers by email? It is up to you, and us, to define.
Client-Attorney Communication Channels
Once expectations and preferences have been established, communication will simply continue to flow along those lines. In our office, I am quite accessible by email and answer them promptly and personally (another advantage over the largest firms).
If you prefer to have a phone conference, then we set one up and usually get that done before the week is out. I firmly believe that staying accessible to my clients is not just important, it is part of what makes me and my firm so successful.
Another channel of communication exists for everyone’s benefit, the online client portal. Here we post all the documents as they arrive; anything that comes into the firm is uploaded the very same day. You will receive a notification so that you can go on the website and see those documents and have access to them. Allowing you to stay up-to-date and abreast of the case.
Contacting Your Attorney With Questions Throughout The Case
It is more than okay to contact your attorney with questions, it is encouraged. It is your case and you have a right to have your questions or concerns answered. It is also in our best interest to make sure you are up to date, understand the processes and steps, and are happy with our service.
So absolutely do ask questions. You can do so by email or by setting up a phone conference, whatever you need to get your questions answered. Another service that many clients might struggle to find at a larger, less personal, law firm.
Strong communication is not just about getting your questions answered, however, it is also an opportunity for you to contribute to the outcome of your case.
What Can A Client Do To Help Their Attorney Prepare Their Case?
One advantage of the privileged and direct communication channels available at a smaller law firm is that you can also reach out to your attorney. I, for one, welcome ideas from my clients, and some of our best settlement plans have come from them.
Anytime a client has an idea about how to either put a settlement plan together, or has a suggestion for someone who would make a great witness, or come up with a document that they think would be a powerful asset when questioning a witness, any ideas that they have on the case are welcome.
I encourage my clients to send me those ideas so we can look at them together. I am not saying I will always use every idea, of course not, sometimes we will and sometimes we will not. That depends on our legal strategy, which might not work with what you are suggesting. But I will always be able to explain why, even if I do not choose to use an idea, which I could never have done if you hadn’t come forward with the suggestion in the first place.
Your Position And Perspective Are Always Valued In Smaller Firms
In the end, you know the case better than anyone else, and I know the law. Together, we will make a great team.
I often tell my clients when we’re preparing for a case, “you know the parties better than anyone else, you know the facts better than anyone else. So tell me about this and this and this.” I think that’s the best way to prepare a case for a hearing or a trial. And the same is true on the estate side, you know who can handle receiving assets at what age better than anyone else.
Therefore, at smaller firms like ours, putting the best estate plan or family law case together is always a cooperative effort.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Estate Planning & Family Law, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on Estate Planning & Family Laws in Colorado, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (719) 988-3884 today.