Communication Is Key To A Good Attorney-Client Relationship

Legislation & Litigation
Reading Time: 5 mins
Publication Date: 08/16/2011

Written by Karen Marshall

A mesothelioma attorney’s experience can make a big difference to your case. But experience isn’t the only important feature of an effective attorney-client relationship. Another key part of any good partnership is good communication.

Before you decide to hire a particular lawyer, make sure you feel comfortable talking with each other. You can do this by meeting (in person or by phone) and asking questions. This not only helps you judge qualifications but also helps you see how well the lawyer communicates with you.

It’s a good idea to prepare questions for your first attorney meeting. Here are some suggested questions:

Do you concentrate on asbestos litigation?

It’s a good idea to find lawyers who are familiar with issues that often arise in asbestos lawsuits. Mesothelioma attorneys focus on these types of cases. They have significant experience investigating exposure history and dealing with asbestos manufacturers.

What percentage of your clients file mesothelioma claims?

It’s also wise to look for experienced mesothelioma attorneys who are familiar with the disease. Not all attorneys who work on asbestos cases actually handle mesothelioma claims.

In fact, some lawyers mainly represent healthy plaintiffs who file asbestos lawsuits but do not currently suffer from asbestos-related diseases. Critics argue that these types of lawsuits deplete the money available to compensate victims who are already sick.

In response, some states have adopted laws to limit claims by plaintiffs who are not ill. These laws require asbestos plaintiffs to prove their physical impairments in order to go to trial. Mesothelioma lawyers understand both the law and your disease. They know that the prognosis of mesothelioma is poor and that the life expectancy of people who have it can be painfully short.

And they can help you prove that you have a valid claim.

Describe your experience.

There are many specific questions you can ask about experience, such as: How many cases have you handled? Have you been to trial or settled most of your cases? Have you had any successes? Describe some of your largest or most difficult cases.

These questions not only address specific legal experience but also give you a chance to see how clearly an attorney communicates and explains the case process. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. Is the lawyer patient and willing to keep working to clearly provide the answers you need?

Also, remember that no attorney should promise specific results. Just because lawyers have helped other clients win sizable awards does not mean they can do the same for you. Each case differs.

Are you able to assist with other types of claims such as mesothelioma trust fund claims or claims for veterans or workers compensation benefits?

If the manufacturer responsible for your asbestos exposure has filed for bankruptcy, you will want to hire attorneys who are familiar with mesothelioma trust fund claims. If you think you may qualify for other types of benefits like veteran benefits or workers compensation benefits, ask for information about other types of claims. See how willing the lawyers are to help you consider all options for assistance.

Can you file my lawsuit in another state? Will I need to travel?

Your mesothelioma attorneys will oversee every aspect of your case, including filing in another state if appropriate. You usually do not need to travel for your case, but always confirm details with your lawyers.

How are you compensated? Will I have any out-of-pocket legal expenses? Who covers costs during the case process?

Most mesothelioma lawyers work on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that they are paid a percentage of any settlement you reach or any award you win at trial. You do not pay anything if you do not win.

Also, remember to ask how court expenses and other litigation expenses will be covered during the case process. If the law firm fronts those expenses, ask how they will be reimbursed from any award.

Always ask about payment. Never assume that an attorney will work on a contingency fee basis or cover all litigation expenses.

Ask about any other concerns you have about your case.

You can ask some or all of the questions suggested above. But also raise any other concerns you may have. Observe how openly a lawyer answers your questions.

Do you feel comfortable talking with the attorney? This is important because you will likely have more questions during the case process.

Also, don’t be put off by an attorney who discusses potential obstacles to your case. On the contrary, be cautious of any lawyer who promises big results. It’s not a lawyer’s job to be blindly or overly optimistic.

Good attorneys work to anticipate problems and see both sides of a picture. This helps them develop good case strategy. Lots of factors affect the outcome of a case. Anticipating potential pitfalls helps attorneys make the best possible decisions for their clients.

In addition to asking questions, remember that lawyers also interview you. They want to evaluate your case’s strengths and weaknesses to determine how they can help. Be open about what you do and do not know about your asbestos exposure and disease.

Find the Right Fit

The initial meeting is a great opportunity to see if a legal team is a good fit for you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your first contact with an attorney can set the tone for good communication throughout the rest of the case process.

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