Everyone is different, even attorneys. You don’t have to love your attorney; you don’t have to even like her/him, but you do need to trust that they can hear and understand what is important to you, and have your best interests at heart.
The attorney-client relationship can breakdown when an attorney is “tone deaf” to a client’s specific needs, communication style and preferences, level of understanding pertinent material, and comfort level in how deeply he/she needs to understand legal principles or aspects of the assets and obligations (peripherally or more comprehensively). There is a quality of attuned listening that most clients want from the professional tasked with representing them.
A “good fit” is about human relatedness, willingness, and attention.
In matrimonial and mediation practice, a good fit is particularly important. When you are dealing with the issues that arise as part of loss and separation, having a cohesive attorney-client attachment can be invaluable. When so much is at stake, the stability of this relationship can help steady a client enduring so much upheaval.
When looking for the right attorney, the client is tasked with identifying what’s most important to them:
- What kind of relating do they like?
- What kind of style are they most comfortable with?
The more a client can thoroughly identify his own wish-list for an attorney, the better his chances are of making a good match:
- Are emails best because they respect his work hours, or are phone calls during a commute better?
- Do you need an attorney who is flexible and can see you on a weekend, or one who has more delineated office hours?
There are aspects of background and experience that some clients need in order for trust to build. One client might need someone who will fight for them, another might need an advocate who can talk things through from multiple angles and work holistically for resolution.
My next blog explores the “good fit” in the attorney/client relationship through a specific case study.