1. Make sure you instruct your lawyer in writing.

A lawyer is naturally expected to act only on a client’s definite and legitimate instruction. This instruction may be oral or in written form. It is however advisable to instruct your lawyer in writing. By this, you will never lose sight of what you want done precisely and the lawyer would feel more obligated to act in line with your legitimate instruction and to seek your approval and confirmation when (s)he intends to act outside your instruction. Certainly, the point must be made that this does not affect your lawyer’s use of discretion whenever necessary to ensure that the job is done in your best interest.

2. Demand for frequent written update on your case or instruction.

This is one of the efficient tools to keep your lawyer on his or her toes. You are entitled to receive periodic updates regarding your matter. More so, this helps you to be vigilant in monitoring the progress of your case. Failure to be vigilant may be fatal in some cases. Never forget that the case is primarily your case and your lawyer is only giving you a legal assistance. Be involved. That way, your lawyer will be more alive to duty.

3. Request for a copy of anything filed on your behalf.

It is in your best interest to keep personal record of every court process and other documents filed on your behalf. Your lawyer should have no difficulty making copies available to you. Go through them even if you may not comprehend everything said. Feel free to ask for explanation.

4. Trust your lawyer.

If you show absolute trust in your lawyer, it will go a long way in boosting his or her mental energy to put in best efforts for you. Lawyers are noble men and women deserving of trust and are trained to be of high integrity. It is part of their professional competence to treat client’s information as confidential.

5. Tell your lawyers everything they need to know.

If you fail to tell your doctor precisely the symptoms you feel, your doctor is in for wrong diagnosis of your ailment and that means you ain’t getting well soon and your condition may grow even worse. In the same way, failure to tell your lawyer all (s)he needs to know will never work in your interest. Help your lawyer to help you. Your lawyer is trained to dissect the issues and to know how the law perceives your situation. If your lawyer knows everything, (s)he would do everything necessary and legally possible for you.

6. Involve your lawyer in good time.

One of the commonest problems that weakens your position in cases and worsens your legal problems is engaging your lawyer when things have gone way out of hand. It is like visiting the hospital when one’s health has so badly deteriorated leaving the doctor with only the option to perform a miracle. It is also like visiting your auto engineer when your car engine has already knocked. If you engage your lawyer timely, (s)he will move to ensure you get the best in good time. For instance, it is better to engage a lawyer when a contract document is being drafted and negotiated than after execution. Usually, the reason for not engaging a lawyer in good time is to avoid legal charges. Note, however, that if things go wrong needlessly, you may pay much more than twice the sum originally being avoided.

7. Pay your lawyer adequately and promptly.

It is to your absolute detriment not to pay your lawyer for his or her professional services and industry. Resist the common urge to avoid paying your lawyer or paying peanuts and at whatever time it pleases you. It is enough that (s)he bears your burden by acting for you. Lighten it by paying your lawyer adequately and promptly too. Although, ethically speaking, a lawyer is obliged to put in best efforts once (s)he accepts a brief irrespective of whether the brief has been perfected. However, it is risky to joke with your lawyer’s fees as there are legitimate ways to get you punished. Sadly, what you bargain for is naturally what you get.

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Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has advised a number of both established and startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.
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