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5 Tips for Talking to a Lawyer - ThinkstockPhotos-487810888-c.jpg

5 tips for talking to a lawyer

We get it. No one wants to talk to lawyers. But there comes a time in everyone’s life—whether it be good news (Marriage) or bad news (Divorce)—when you’ll need to consult with a lawyer. And when that time comes, there are a few tips you should consider to make the legal process a whole lot easier and less painful for both you and your lawyer.

But wait! You may be thinking, “Isn’t that what I pay my lawyer for?” Not quite. Consider this: Imagine having a toothache (ouch). Naturally, you’d go to your dentist, who would ask a couple of standard questions like, “Where does it hurt?” or “What medications have you been using to reduce the pain?” Now, imagine if you simply said, “I don’t know” to all those questions. It may sound strange but lawyers are like dentists. Or, in fact, like any professionals who try to help you help yourself. They can only do so much without your guidance. It takes teamwork.

Though lawyers, by definition, are well-versed in the landscape of law, you need to provide background information (details, first-hand accounts, documents, etc.) so they can smoothly steer through the long and winding legal road without making anyone nauseous along the way.

So are you ready to talk to your lawyer? Here are five helpful tips to ensure a pleasant experience and (hopefully) a successful outcome.

1. Get organized. Try to create a clear, comprehensive story of your situation. For example, if it’s an event-related incident (e.g. traffic ticket), you should make sure you write down everything that took place, from start to finish, in chronological order. Create a folder of relevant legal documents. Get a contact list of the witnesses on the scene. Just don’t dump an overload of scattered information on your poor lawyer to sort out themselves.

2. Be detailed. Seemingly frivolous details like the weather may, at first, seem dismissible. But in the eyes of the law, every detail matters; every variable has the potential to help your case. And since your lawyer doesn’t follow your every move (we certainly hope not!), it’s your responsibility to be your lawyer’s eyes and ears so they are looking at the whole (and most importantly, accurate) picture. Give specifics (names, dates, and exact incidents) and factual information to produce that crystal clear view.

3. Be honest. Plain and simple: Don’t lie. Remember that you and your lawyer are on the same team. Your lawyer cannot share confidential information with anyone, unless you give them permission to do so. When you start omitting relevant facts or adding fictitious information to your story, it’ll only hurt you in the end. Be prepared to explain everything to your lawyer—the good and the bad. This will help them give you the right advice and guidance to ensure the best possible outcome.

4. Ask to clarify. If you find yourself confused by all the legal jargon you hear, that’s okay. The law can get confusing, and this is not the time to guess at meanings or pretend to understand legalese. Just let your lawyer know, and they should do their best to explain things in layman’s terms. Getting a clarification or two may go a long way toward putting your mind at ease—and help your lawyer do a better job of handling your case. It’s both you and your lawyer’s job to fully comprehend your legal situation.

5. Keep them informed. Things are bound to change. And when they do, it’s imperative to update your lawyer. Each small detail or development can dramatically change your legal situation—for better or for worse. Some legal situations may take a longer time to resolve so it’s best to keep in contact with your lawyer as new relevant updates pop up.

So what’s the biggest takeaway? You don’t have to go through this legal process yourself. We’re right beside you, every step of the way. We have thousands of legal documents and forms to choose from to customize for your particular need. Once you’ve customized your document, you can craft a question for our network of Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorneys. The question will then be attached to the document you just completed—for reference and clarification.

You can ask the lawyer to to review what you’ve done, elaborate on the right next steps, or even to simply alleviate your concerns, like “Is this the right document for my situation?” You’ll get your answer within one business day and before you know it, you’ll be on your way—with a completed legal document and newfound knowledge of how to talk to your lawyer.

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29 Comments

  1. James Harvon says:

    The tips that stood out to me was being honest. This is the only way to get the proper help that you need. I imagine that this would also help keep cases less complicated.

  2. Heather Jackson says:

    I agree with James, being honest in the facts is very important when speaking with a lawyer. I’d like to add that it is important to be honest in your portrayl of yourself, as well. Finding a lawyer that clicks well with your personality can help your teamwork to be cohesive and full. It can be intimidating when speaking with a professional; but, try to be your genuine self.

  3. Gary Birtles says:

    It really is important to be organized before talking with a lawyer. This helps save time and it helps meetings be more focused. Have in mind what you want to talk to your lawyer about ahead of time and be up front with them. That is a great way to get the most from your lawyer.

  4. Caleb Hart says:

    I have never spoken with a lawyer so I’m pretty nervous to meet one. My wife and I are going through some rough times and it doesn’t look good. Maybe we should talk to a lawyer about divorce and how it is going to work. Maybe we can work out a pretty fair settlement.

  5. Jeff Bridges says:

    My sister is currently going through a divorce. She says that it is very important to be honest with the lawyer. That way they can fully understand the situation and best help you.

  6. Lauren Adams says:

    I really like the advice to be organized and detailed. Sometimes, people think that the lawyer is the only person responsible for making things run smoothly. However, it really takes a team to win a case. You need to be open and very communicative with your lawyer. Not doing so will cause you to struggle a bit with the case.

  7. Jiro Miyashita says:

    I am currently in partner with a document reviewer attorney and I really like the way he talks and deal with my situation. At first, I was hesitant to work with an attorney because I have a bad experience with some of them. You should talk seriously with them and tell everything and ask a question if needed.

  8. James Harvon says:

    Being comfortable enough to ask questions is crucial when speaking to a lawyer. The section on asking to clarify really stood out to me. Instead of leaving an important confused, asking for clarity will not only be relieveing, but also help you better understand the pending situation.

    • Tyrone Hill says:

      I agree with you, James. In order to really get to know a lawyer and be comfortable with them, you need to be willing to ask questions. If you’re looking for someone to represent you, you’re going to want to be as familiar with them as possible. I have a friend looking for a divorce lawyer right now, and I’m definitely going to show him these tips. Thanks again for the comment, James!

  9. Levy R. says:

    These are some really good tips about how to talk with a lawyer. I liked the tip about staying organized. That seems like it would be a really useful thing to do with any lawyer, but especially a corporate lawyer. The more detailed you are the more likely your case will turn out good in corporate law.

  10. Alex Jennings says:

    Hey, Angela! Thanks for posting this article! I’m meeting with a family lawyer next week, and I’ll be sure to follow some of the tips that you’ve suggested. I think the most important tip you’ve listed is staying detailed. Sometimes—like you said—frivolous details are important; especially when meeting with lawyers! Thanks for sharing!

    Alex Jennings

  11. Casey Jones says:

    Thanks Angela for the tips on talking with a lawyer. I run a small business and have been encouraged by multiple people to talk to a lawyer about business law. You make a great point about being detailed. They more details I would be able to give them, the better they could help me.

  12. Tara Tompson says:

    I’ve been thinking about getting a lawyer for my husbands accident. Staying organized, and being honest about what happened, is the best way to go. It’s true that they are there to help you, help yourself. You can’t do it on your own, but they can’t either. You need to be able to give them the information that they need to help you.

  13. Audrey Blakeney says:

    The third tip about being honest with your lawyer can be a significant factor in whether or not you win your case. Lawyer/client relationships have to be built on trust, so that your attorney can better prepare and present your case. Curve balls hitting your lawyer in mediation or even in court because you were dishonest with them could damage the relationship and your case severely.

  14. Dani Grey says:

    Child custody is the most difficult family law component, I believe. I think that there are enough people who have seen a messy child custody case that this is common knowledge. I just think that some good legal counsel could make things easier for everyone.

  15. James Harvon says:

    All of these tips would assist me when speaking with a lawyer. The suggestion that will help me the most will be to ask for clarification. A lot of the lawyer jargon can go over my head. By asking for clarification I will be able to keep up and properly understand the proceedings.

  16. Megan Earl says:

    These tips could definitely come in handy if you’re going to be talking to a lawyer. I feel like sometimes it’s hard to remember everything you want to say when you’re working with a lawyer. Some legal cases can be so complex, it’s hard to keep your mind organized. I really like the tip about being detailed, though. Sharing all of the details with your lawyer can be the difference between winning or losing your case. It always helps me to make a list of all the things I want to discuss.
    Megan

  17. Mary Jane Princton says:

    Talking to a lawyer can definitely be scary and stressful. However, these workers are really helpful and really knowledgeable. I definitely think that it is a good idea for you to go into your meeting organized with plenty of detail. The more information you are able to give these workers, the more they can help you.

  18. Jameel Johnson says:

    I enjoyed your analogy of seeing a dentist. In order for lawyers to be able to help us, we have to be willing to help ourselves. Going to a lawyer is the first step, but we also have to become knowledgeable and open about our situation. This in turn will allow the lawyer to gain sufficient knowledge to handle our case.

  19. Emily Smith says:

    This was a great post about talking to lawyers. At some point in most peoples lives they are going to have to interact with lawyers. It can definitely seem like a daunting task. The tip about asking for them to clarify seems like a good idea. I will have to keep that in mind in case I ever need a lawyer.

  20. Julie Myers says:

    My husband and I need to get a will made, and we need to talk to a good lawyer about it. I think it would be best for us to follow these five steps so that it goes really well. I think one thing that we should do in particular is be very detailed. Especially when it comes to making a will, it is very important that all the details are considered so that nothing is missed. Thank you for the great article and the excellent tips!

  21. Shirley Williams says:

    I love how you mentioned the importance of being honest. Lawyers need to know everything that’s going on if they’re going to be able to help you. If you don’t tell them everything important about the case, there’s a good chance that it will negatively affect you. Hopefully people will avoid that issue and just remain as honest as they possibly can be about it.

  22. DeloresLyon says:

    Thanks for sharing all of this advice on talking with an attorney. I definitely agree that most people will end up needing to talk to a lawyer at some point in their life. In fact, I think it would be a good idea to know these tips before you even need to see an attorney. That way, you will know exactly how to interact with them, which is nice.

  23. Brandon Roberts says:

    I really appreciate you talking about this, and giving some tips for people to better understand how to talk to an attorney. Talking to a lawyer can be very stressful and awkward. I know this from experience. But, I think that if people were to follow your tips, it would help a lot of people with this.

  24. GeraldVonberger says:

    I definitely agree with being honest with your attorney. It seems like just about every lie get uncovered in some way or another. That makes it really hard for anyone to advocate for you, like an attorney, if they don’t have possession of the actual facts. Thanks for the great tips! I think you’re right that just about everyone will have to talk to an attorney at one point or another in time, so it’s good to know these things.

  25. abby travers says:

    I can definitely see how it is important to convey your background story to a lawyer. They may be a divorce lawyer that has general experience in that area. However, not all divorces are the same and therefore, they cannot just offer “blanket” help to you. For instance, finances between the two spouses is a consideration that is different between different marriages.

  26. Alex Jennings says:

    Well-written article, Angela! Thanks for sharing this with us—it seems like you have some experience in the law industry! I think you’re absolutely right: it’s important to get organized before talking with an attorney. It’s also incredibly important that you’re honest and upfront about everything—yes, EVERYTHING. I wish more people would understand that; lawyers just want to help!

    Alex Jennings at Riley & Gutman

  27. ratografas says:

    This would be a pretty interesting letter to get from your law firm. I don’t think that my law firm would ever breach my trust. Regards, Advokato Konsultacija

  28. Robin says:

    Great tips. I really do appreciate the advice and think that more people need to be aware of how to best communicate effectively with lawyers.

    Keep up the good work!