I’ve decided to do a quick 3-part series about the proper role and limitations of an attorney. These lists can’t be entirely inclusive, but will give you a general idea what you can and can’t expect from your counsel.
What your lawyer CAN or SHOULD do for you.
- Explain how the law applies to your situation and advise you on your options. Sometimes the law is vague. Sometimes the law lists many factors and the court is given the discretion to determine the outcome of your case based on the judge’s interpretation of those factors. There’s not always a clearly “right” answer, but your lawyer can help you evaluate how the law applies to you and help you work out a solution.
- Guide you through all the various and overlapping rules of procedure, evidence, and conduct. There are hundreds of rules to follow. Federal rules, state rules, local rules, regulations, guidelines. There are all kinds of deadlines and procedures, and a misstep on any of them could be detrimental to your case.
- Represent you at any interaction with the court, opposing counsel, investigators, insurance companies, or any other persons involved so you are not pressured to make agreements, agree to settlements, or discuss facts that you do not understand or had time to evaluate.
- Help you acquire evidence from the opposing side, the state, businesses, or other people and entities to support your claims and defenses.
- Help you evaluate all of the evidence in your case. It’s likely that some of the evidence will helpful to you, some may be bad for you. Your attorney can help you to emphasize what evidence is best for you and respond to evidence that hurts your case.
- Advise you on how the court normally responds to situations like yours.
- Advise you of any offers to settle or any demands made by the other side, and help you evaluate and respond to the offers and demands.
- Fight for you and your best interests and not for anybody else’s. This means your attorney can not also represent someone else who’s interests are opposed to yours.
- Keep your private information private. Your lawyer has a duty of confidentiality, which means you are free to discuss the details of your case without fear that your competitors, family, or others will find out about it.
Next up: What your lawyer can not do for you.