There are no magic words that mark the beginning of your attorney-client relationship. Meeting with an attorney and signing a contract or agreement and paying a retainer fee is the most common way to begin the relationship. Once an attorney-client relationship has started, the attorney must fulfill various duties to the client. There are rules to every attorney-client relationship. Here is what you can expect from your attorney, and what your attorney can expect from you.
First, every attorney-client relationship operates on a few assumptions that are necessary for the relationship to be successful. These three points are crucial for the attorney-client relationship to to be beneficial. The below should be established at the beginning of the relationship to help set expectations:
In general, clients are mentally healthy and sound, and do not suffer from mental health issues that obstruct their ability to achieve their goals.
Clients are not empty receptacles for the attorney’s knowledge and advice but are adaptive.
Clients have the ability to change their thinking, belief systems, and behaviors in the pursuit of growth.
Attorney behaviors that are also necessary for a positive and beneficial attorney-client relationship:
Make no judgments or assumptions about the client.
Become skilled in active listening.
Motivate clients by being challenging as well as empowering.
Support clients by acknowledging their efforts and successes as well as holding them accountable for their own actions.
Remember that the attorney-client relationship involves working as a team and be ready to adapt to the client’s changing needs.
Center the experience around well-defined and realistic, achievable goals.
During the course of an attorney-client relationship, your attorney should reinforce several key messages:
Attorneys should acknowledge and encourage what is good in the client.
Attorneys should maintain a safe and open environment for the client.
The attorney and client must be on the same page during the relationship, sharing the responsibility for defining and maintaining the attorney-client relationship.
The relationship must be undertaken with a client-centered approach that focuses on the client as an individual with unique needs, strengths, and experience.
The focus is on the client’s entire self, with special focus on the client’s family life, mental health, financial health, emotional boundaries, growth, and legal status.
Benefits of effective attorney client relationship:
A stronger sense of identity and purpose for the client and the ability to move forward from a damaging or potentially damaging relationship.
A stronger sense that the client is living the life they have dreamed about.
Enhanced mental health and increased quality of life.
Positive change in behavior and beliefs, including improved self-confidence and self-acceptance.
Understanding the relationship between the client and the attorney is imperative to any matter, but these are only some of the key notes surrounding the relationship. If you have further questions, you should not hesitate to ask the attorney you are considering hiring!