Managing Client Expectations

Managing Client Expectations

Very often in litigation, clients have unrealistic expectations. Some have the thought that just because they have retained professional legal representation that they automatically win their matter. Such is not necessarily the case.

There are so many variables when a matter goes to court. The most important one is the real truth. As the bench states frequently that there are three perceptions of truth. The Plaintiff’s, the Defendant’s and the what the Judge will believe. It is of vital importance that the client be straightforward and truthful with their legal representative.

Nothing derails a trial faster than when a critical fact changes in testimony. A fact that was essential in making the case. One that is now gone leaving a negative or terminal impact on any potential of winning the matter.

When this happens, it leaves council exposed. Rather than making points in fortifying the case, they are now regaled to damage control. Not a good place to be in front of a judge.

Trial preparation is vital as it becomes the road map to the matter. One that makes the presentation of trial materials clear and understandable to the trier of fact. It is imperative that coinciding case law is researched and presented. This can be a long and tedious process. Case law is written documentation stored in databases of other matters that have been tried. What we do is research matters that have similar details and positive out comes as to what we are trying to accomplish. By presenting this to the trier of fact, the outcome of the trial can be arrived at in a quicker and more convincing manner when a judge is able to compare what their fellow judges have ruled upon in similar matters.

Often times, clients have a pre-conceived notion of what a matter is worth monetarily. Proof is the most deciding factor. Without it, you have no case. Receipts, photographs, affidavits from credible people who have knowledge of the matter are critical as are witnesses that have first hand knowledge. Professional witnesses should be used as often as possible in building your case. These all come at an additional cost. However, many times, they are the turning point in a heated matter. If you are going to litigate, litigate all the way.

Recognize that you are paying your council by the hour. So many times, people call up to ask the same questions that have already been address or just to ask “where are we now” when there has been no activity on the matter due to waiting for a court date or production of documents. Be cognizant of everyone’s time as if it is wasted, it will still go onto your billing. Organize your questions so that you can minimize the time invested in finding the answers.

Clients often think that once the trial has been completed that the work has been finish by the legal professional. This is not correct. In most instances, the judge will defer judgement as they may need to consult the transcripts to clarify an important issue. Judgement can be anywhere from seven (7) days to seven (7) months. It all depends on the workload and the complications of the retrieval of facts that the judge needs to consider.

Once a judgement has been received, cost submissions must be prepared and submitted to the other side and delivered to the judge. Once again, the matter goes into a waiting mode while the judge decides as to any and all costs or awards that will given to the victorious party. The matter then must be retracted and closed in the court.

Just because a judgement has been awarded does not necessarily mean that the opposing party will pay or has the means to pay. Garnishments and the seizure of bank accounts may have to be sought. A writ of seizure and sale of property may be the only way to obtain funds.

All of these measures carry up front additional costs that can be claimed back onto the judgement amount plus interest.

It is important to know that who ever you are suing have the means to pay a judgement awarded against them if you should garner a win in court. Additionally, make sure that assets are in their name.

We at Shaw Legal go over each and every one of these points in helping our clients with a good look at the total picture so that you may make an intelligent decision answering the question: is litigation right for this situation?

Managing your expectations is vital. By asking the right questions and obtaining the correct information, we will guide you professionally through the process.

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