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5. Keep copies of everything

Lawyers love it when clients can prove every material fact which their case relies on with some kind of

documentary evidence.

Even better if you have it in soft copy and can just email it.

6. If your matter is document-heavy, organise

If you have a huge stack of documents that you hate the thought of sifting through, your lawyer probably feels the same way.

Your lawyer will do it if you don’t, but

you will be charged accordingly and you certainly won’t endear yourself to him/her. Save yourself the cost and make your lawyer happy in the process.

Before handing your documents to your lawyer,

sort through and categorise them in some logical way, whether chronologically, alphabetically or thematically. Store them neatly, whether in labelled physical folders or in soft copy in labelled digital folders. Add an index naming each document in order.

Now you have just empowered your lawyer to hit the ground running and get down to real legal work immediately.

7. Contact your lawyer only when necessary

If your lawyer is kind enough to provide a mobile phone number,

don’t abuse that privilege. Only call when you really need to, and on weekends only if it really can’t wait until Monday.

If your lawyer can’t answer, don’t take it personally. He/she may be busy trying to get your work or another client’s work done, especially if the work can only be done without interruption.

Send a brief message explaining

what you want and how urgent it is, and your lawyer should get back to you. Don’t be the client who interrupts a lawyer’s well-earned Saturday night out or Sunday morning lie-in, expecting to discuss something relatively trivial that could easily be dealt with in a 2-line email on Monday.

8. Don’t communicate with any counter-party directly and don’t write publicly about your matter

Nothing can undo a lawyer’s good work more quickly and with more devastation than a client

publishing something online that helps an adverse party, or

communicating certain information to adverse parties without the lawyer’s knowledge.

It is very difficult for a lawyer to come up with a strategy that best advances your interests without knowing what you have shared with the other party. Therefore after engaging your lawyer, share every relevant exchange of information you have ever had with a relevant party with your lawyer.

Also, once your lawyer has come on board, you should

pass the burden of communication with your counter-party entirely to your lawyer. After all, this is part of the service you are paying for. It also manages the risk of you saying something you weren’t supposed to, or agreeing to something you shouldn’t have.

It is also important for you and your lawyer to 

agree 

on the things that should remain confidential. Sometimes, what that actually means in practice can be complex, so the best policy is never to write anything about your matter publicly.

If an adverse party contacts you directly to try to negotiate or if a journalist asks you questions, the appropriate response is to

let them speak to your lawyer. Anything you say can be used against you and you hired a lawyer to manage this risk for you. Let your lawyer do just that.

9. Be clear about who your lawyer is authorised to deal with

If you are a company, you need to make it explicitly clear which officers within your company are authorised to instruct your lawyer, and/or to receive confidential information regarding your legal matter.

As a matter of data protection and risk management, having a

single point of contact within the company to the lawyer is ideal and minimises the risk of confidential information about your company’s legal affairs leaking to the public.

If you are an individual, your lawyer may only take instructions from and give updates to

you, the client. This is unless you have specifically authorised the lawyer to share confidential information about your legal matter with someone else. Such authority should ideally be given to your lawyer in writing.

If you have not given such authorisation, the lawyer will not be able to give updates about your case to your mother, your wife, your granny or your cousin’s best friend’s mother-in-law’s dog sitter. This is not because your lawyer is being difficult, but because your lawyer is bound by solicitor-client privilege unless and until you explicitly waive it.

10. Listen to your lawyer

You have engaged a lawyer to provide you with legal advice and represent your interests. Therefore when your lawyer gives you legal advice, recognise that this is a professional opinion coming from someone who has specialised knowledge of the law. Since it is also exactly what you are paying for,

give it due consideration.

That said,

whether you ultimately accept or reject the advice is up to you alone, based on your – and not your lawyer’s – personal or commercial interests. Once you have conveyed your decision to the lawyer, it is his/her job to take your instructions and represent your interests as you have deemed fit. This is also what you are paying for.

If the lawyer disagrees so strongly with your decision that he/she refuses to carry out your instructions (assuming they are legal and ethical), find another lawyer who will.

If you follow these 10 commandments, you should expect to enjoy an excellent working relationship with your lawyer, and that can only have positive consequences.

Not just on the outcome of your matter, but also on your wallet.

The post 10 Ways to Be a Better Client to Your Lawyer (and Cut Down Your Legal Bill) appeared first on SingaporeLegalAdvice.com.

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