Understanding the Criminal and Civil Justice Systems

can be deferred. If you are worried about excessive fees, ask if a cap can be placed on fees. Ask to be billed monthly at the beginning, end, or middle of the month depending on your financial situation. Be sure the contract spells out your financial responsibility if you decide to drop your case or take it to another attorney. If the attorney asks you to sign a contract that is ‘standard’ and you would like items included that were discussed during your interview but not spelled out in the contract, ask that they be included. Remember, you are hiring this person to work for you—not the other way around. The contract is a legally binding document, so be sure it states the details Once you have signed a contract with an attorney, you should expect certain things of them: • An attorney’s primary responsibility is to act on your behalf. They should create an atmosphere of confidentiality where you can ask questions and receive honest answers and advice. • A competent attorney will always be able to tell you the status of your case in simple language and give you a timetable on how they see the case developing. • Your attorney, or a member of their staff, should return your calls as soon as possible. (However, remember that if they are a good trial lawyer, they will spend a lot of time in court.) • If the contract states that you will receive copies of all correspondence and filings on your case, expect them. You exactly as you understand them. Your Attorney’s Responsibilities

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