From a lawyer’s perspective, a good client is a business person who does the following:
Presents all the facts of the case fairly without exaggeration or deception. Tell your lawyer everything; not just the facts that help you.
The rest of the story always comes out and usually with adverse consequences. · Considers the lawyer as a trusted advisor and advocate.
Has a well-organized set of relevant documents.
Provides other documents and information promptly when requested.
Accepts that every case has weaknesses and works with the lawyer to develop a strategy to minimize the weaknesses.
Recognizes that the lawyer cannot guarantee the outcome but can only provide effective advocacy to produce the best result, often as a result of negotiation or mediation.
If an examination for discovery or trial is required, takes the time to prepare to testify.
Asks for clarification on all matters that are unclear.
Understands that in litigation matters, it is impossible to predict the fees accurately but that the lawyer will gladly provide estimates of imminent steps in the case.
Pays retainers when asked and settles interim accounts promptly when rendered.
Considers the lawyer’s recommendations carefully and provides reasonable instructions.
One of our firm’s clients is a technology business which started as a family operation and has grown to the point that its brand is now accepted and recognized globally. Our client’s president knows hows to get the most out of his professional advisors. He is always respectful, trusting of professionalism, intelligence, experience and competence. He is prompt in responding to requests for information, appreciative of good advice and excellent service. He works hard but he usually has a happy and cheerful attitude.
Our client expects is professional advisors to have the same enthusiasm for their work as he does for the operations of his business. And another small matter: our client pays every professional account within 48 hours of receipt. He believes that if he had to challenge his lawyer or accountant’s bill, the professional relationship is not a healthy as it should be. Our client expects fair treatment, excellent service, sound advice, creative strategy, experienced advocacy and determined, no-nonsense negotiations. And he gets all of them in spades! A lot of business people who are dissatisfied with their professional advisors could learn a lot from him.
These tips offer no assurance that your legal matter will turn out exactly as you expect. However, by following our suggestions, the resolution of your business dispute is likely to be a less expensive, less time-consuming and less stressful experience and possibly more successful. Keeping your business legal affairs in good order permits you more time to focus on making your business flourish.
Igor Ellyn, QC, CS and Orie Niedzviecki are partners of ELLYN LAW LLP Business Litigation and Arbitration Lawyers, a Toronto law firm, established specializing in dispute resolution for small and medium businesses and