What Your Lawyer Does and Does Not Do

by : Gerard Simington

Many people hire an attorney without really understanding what this person will do for them. Understanding what they do and do not do is important.

What Your Lawyer Does and Does Not Do

Most people have an image of attorneys based on what they see on the media. Whether the media comes in the form of dramas or talk shows with attorneys spouting off about just about anything, the image is generally incorrect. Simply put, most attorneys are just working stiffs like you and me.

The marching orders for you lawyer are to pursue the best possible result for you in the legal dispute. He or she is legal charged with representing you as enthusiastically as possible. Importantly, their role is not to get a “just" result. The system is set up so both sides should go nuts with the assumption being that justice will be done. Odd, but true.

It is vital that you understand this is the temperament of your attorney. For many people, legal issues can end up becoming bigger than they realize. For instance, your divorce attorney is charged with carving up your ex-spouse as much as possible to get you as much as possible. In the same vein, an attorney preparing a legal document for you is going to write it in such a way as to favor you as much as possible. If you are looking for a different approach, you must tell your attorney. If you want a “fair" divorce or an even handed contract, it is on you to tell them.

Another area that gets confused is what I call the ultimate decision. At some point in your legal matter, a major decision is going to have to be made. It could be whether to go to trial, whether to sign a contract and so on. The decision is yours and yours alone. An attorney will explain your options as well as the benefits and negatives of each option. At this point, many clients ask their attorney what they should do. The attorney will not give you an answer because it must be your choice. You are the party involved, not the attorney. Unfortunately, many clients take this as a sign the attorney is not helping them. This is incorrect.

Understanding what your attorney is going to do is vital to getting a result you are comfortable with. Unless you tell them otherwise, your attorney is going to go after the other side as aggressively as possible. If you don’t want this approach, you need to speak up at the beginning of the case.