Communicating with your attorney in a divorce

If you have questions or concerns, you may text me at (931) 217-7648. My name is James Phillips. In a divorce, it’s critical to communicate with your attorney. Many law firms have developed a model where they communicate with their clients through the use of paralegals. The lawyer does not consider him/herself responsible for the relationship with the client. This damages the attorney – client relationship. In a divorce, the client should expect to have direct contact with his or her attorney. The reason for this is that so much of what is said between the attorney and the client is directly related to what may happen at trial.

Divorces can be messy, hurtful, and expensive. For the person getting divorced, the divorce will typically be one of the most traumatic events of their lives.  Although paralegals are helpful, and in most firms, vital to the production of documents, they are generally not the best members of the law firm to be directly communicating with the client.  When the client’s main line of communication is the paralegal and not the lawyer, the divorce lawyer will frequently not have a good handle on the issues that concern the client. This can become a complete breakdown if there is an client perceived emergency and the client has no faith in the lawyer.

This line of communication is also critical in the attorney-client relationship because the client a lot of times is worried about things that they should not be worried about.  As the attorney and client establish a relationship over time, the attorney frequently educates the client, so by the time they get to the final hearing, the client has a clear expectation as to how trial unfolds.

For example, in a divorce/custody case, one of the ways that I do this with my clients is by educating them on the Tennessee Best Interests of the Child Test. I know that from the beginning of our relationship, they are concerned with the eventual outcome as it relates to the primary custodian of the children. So, right from the start, I see my role as an educator.  Most of the times, I am the only one of the two of us that has gone through the divorce process and I have done it thousands of times.  My knowledge provides comfort as a guide. I use my clients concerns as a means to educate.  Whenever a concern arises as to parenting, I will go over each element of the BIOTCT and explain how at trial we will be building a case around each one of the factors.  This will relieve the client’s anxiety because they will understand why certain pieces of information are more important to me as a lawyer.  Eventually, they begin to focus our conversations on the important legal issues because I have communicated directly to them.

Since paralegals don’t go to try, they generally have a very good understanding of the law, but will not always have a grasp on how that will play out in Court.  They can also have more information about the client and the client’s needs than the lawyer if they are doing the majority of the communication.

If you are spending more time talking to your paralegal and feel like you don’t know your lawyer, this is a good sign that something is wrong.  If you feel like you are being ignored by your lawyer, this is a good sing that something is wrong.  You have to trust the lawyer because you are putting your whole life in their hands.  They earn that trust by working hard on your case and showing through communication/

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