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Ep. 53 – How To Be A Good Client

In this episode, I discuss ten things that make up a good client, give some other tips of things to consider, and questions to ask so that you are better prepared going through the divorce or post-divorce process.


Hey, my beautiful friends. How are you doing? Listen, today we’re gonna talk about something a little different. We’re gonna go a little bit more into the legal arena and less about life coaching for a little change of pace. So I’m gonna give you the 10 top tips of a client and what you should expect and how to be.

A good client. So if you are ready, let’s get started.

Are you ready to create a life that’s better than ever before? We are Doreen Yaha and Jeff Wilson, and we are here to give you the strategies you need to create the life after divorce that you. And desire as partners, both in marriage and coaching. We use our expertise as well as our own personal experiences to help you make the next chapter of your life the best chapter.

So recently I’ve been dealing with a lot of what I call client management. Basically trying to get clients to. Act, perform, understand so that we as lawyers can do the best job that we can for them. So I thought about you and I thought about whether you’re going through a divorce. Or whether you are in a post-judgment, family law issue, maybe it’s a contempt or a modification of support, whatever it is.

Here are my top 10 tips on how to be a really good. Client. So I hope you enjoy it. And listen, these are not in any real sense of priority. They’re just random things that throughout my many years of doing this, I think you should be aware of. And if you wanna have the best relationship with your. Lawyer to really consider.

So my first thing is think before you litigate first thing, think before you litigate. And what I mean by that is if you are in the midst of considering whether or not you want to move forward with a divorce, or if you are in. a situation where, let’s say your ex hasn’t paid you support, and so now you have to hire a lawyer to come in and probably send a letter, maybe file some kind of action with the court, or if you have to enforce some other issue in your agreement.

Or maybe you have a child custody issue that’s post-judgment, meaning after your final judgment of divorce, and you need to go back and modify that. What the first thing I ask a client to do is, do you really want to go down that route? You really have to consider it whenever you’re going to hire a lawyer.

You want to understand what’s involved. You want to understand. If the case gets going, meaning if it gets litigated, if you can’t resolve it quickly, what it looks like. So think before you litigate, means go and meet with some lawyers, get a complimentary consultation. Ask the tough questions and be prepared for that consultation.

How long is this going to take? How much is it going to cost me? What is the best case scenario? What is the worst case scenario? Who would I be working with in your team? How can I keep my costs down? You wanna be prepared before you litigate, so ask. Questions and know you want to go that route. Think before you litigate, before you start.

Number two, know your budget. And with this, not only knowing how much you are willing to spend on the litigation or the settlement, remember most cases settle right, but how much you’re going to spend and how much you can afford is really important to know. And also important to know is how does the lawyer bill, are they billing for every text message or email conversation?

How do they bill who bills? How can you keep the cost down? Things of this nature. You really need to understand the money surrounding moving forward with a case. So ask the questions and know, Hey, I’m willing to spend X amount of dollars, be upfront with. L. Potential lawyer or your lawyer, tell them what your budget is because there’s lots of different ways that lawyers can represent people in the state of Florida.

We could do what’s known as a limited representation, which is what it sounds like representing the client on a specific issue. Right, not having to represent them full steam, meaning maybe it’s just on a, on a hearing or at a deposition, or maybe it’s just to do consulting behind the scenes and to help them to draft documents, but they’re gonna file them.

So knowing your budget, Is important. That’s number two, and with that is knowing how the firm bills. What are they billing you for? You want to have straight up, transparent conversations with the lawyer right from the get-go. Number three kind of goes with this, review your billing invoices. Now, in my firm, we bill three times a month, and why do we do that?

Because I want my clients to know. What is going on in their case, and we give out detailed billing. You should be getting invoices. They should be detailed, meaning that you should understand the description of the billing, who’s billing it, and the amount that’s being. Build. You want to look at these and you wanna ask questions where you need to ask questions.

Number four, managing expectations. Both the client and the lawyer need to be involved in this. You need to understand the expectations of the client, what they expect of you, and they. need to understand what you expect of them. Having those clear conversations from the get-go and ongoing as the case develops, because things change, you know, positions change, strategies change as we’re going through the process, so have check-ins on this, but managing expectations on both sides.

Lawyer and client. Number four, super important. Number five, less is more. You know, I have clients as an example that will call us, email us, text message us on a daily basis. What’s going on with my case? Here’s what I need you to know, et cetera, et cetera. Now, every time that you communicate with your lawyer, Something of substance, meaning not like what time is my appointment?

You know, that’s secretarial in nature, but if it’s something of substance, let me tell you what my soon to be X did. I was thinking about my case and what about X, Y, Z? I wanted you to look at this. Could you give me a status report? Those types of communications are. Generally. So you want to understand that when you are reaching out to your lawyer, is it really necessary you have hired this lawyer because you trust them on some level to represent you?

If you have to inquire on a consistent basis, are you doing it because you don’t trust your. If you don’t then find another lawyer, are you doing it because you’re emotional, right? You’re emotional and you want to vent. You want to talk to your lawyer more like a therapist than a lawyer. Be aware that you’re going to likely be billed for this.

So use those communications sparingly. That’s why call number five. Is more, any good lawyer is going to be in touch with you when they need you, right? And they’re going to be setting times to obviously give you status reports and keep you informed. We, for example, send copies of everything to our clients, so they’re always in the loop.

But I have to tell you, those clients that like to call and bother you on a daily basis, not that it’s a bother, okay? But that it’s involved and it’s billing. Think about that. number six kind of goes with it as well, right? Keep the emotions out of it. This is challenging, right? You are emotional. You are going through a divorce or you’re dealing with a post divorce issue.

It is emotional. I get that. We talk about a lot of that in the other episodes about how to manage your mind, how to coach yourself in a way outside of the legal system. To help you to move forward, to have clarity. But when you are using your lawyer or the legal system to vent, to be emotional, not good, it’s expensive and it’s off point.

Meaning your lawyer is there to do a legal job for you. They are not there to be your therapist or your life coach. If you want or need a life coach or a, the. Find one. I promise you, they are likely far less expensive than what your lawyer bills by the hour. So number six again, is keep the emotions out of it.

Number seven, ask for status of your case. Ask for that and a game plan. Understand where you are with the case, not on a daily basis, but maybe you check in every few weeks, or you ask the lawyer, Hey, could we have a check-in? Would it be possible for us to have a brief call? , let’s say every other week at a specific date, uh, you know, day of the week and time where you can bring me up to speed and I can bring to you all of the questions that I have.

I promise you your lawyer will appreciate that. It’ll save you money cuz you can do everything that you have in your brain that you wanna talk about. The lawyer can converse where they are. And the game plan going forward, and everybody can be on the same page. So number seven is ask for status and game plan number eight.

Ask the likelihood of success. I call this a cost benefit, right on the issue. So let’s say you’re in a divorce, and let’s say you have issues of the distribution of property custody related issues and support alimony, let’s say in child support issues. You want to understand how your lawyer is approaching the issue.

What the upside is of prevailing, whatever that looks like based on your case and the facts surrounding your marriage, your situation, and how much is going to cost you to get there. I, you know, I had a case once where the parties who had more money than they knew what to do. You know, we’re actually fighting over a chair.

It was a very, uh, it was like an antique chair that had been, you know, in the family, meaning they had purchased it when they just got married and both parties wanted this chair, and it was an expensive chair. But I’m talking like, you know, several thousand dollars, not several. Tens of thousands of dollars and they were so emotional and so involved in that they were spending all this money.

Over this chair more than it was worth, right? So what you wanna know is the cost benefit. If I’m gonna get, you know, if we’re gonna go to trial and the issue is alimony and I’m going, we’re gonna try to get another thousand dollars a month, which is an is a lot of money, okay? How much is it gonna cost me to get there?

Because if I’m only gonna get Alan money for a duration of time. Because that’s what the law is. So maybe it’s not what we call permanent alimony in Florida. Meaning until someone would die or remarry or be in a supportive relationship, right, or it’s modified. But how much is it gonna cost me to take that issue for an extra thousand dollars to court?

You wanna know it? So number eight is ask the likelihood of success. That means winning on the issue and ask the cost benefit, how much will it cost me versus how much I’m gonna get potentially. And then do the math. And you can sit and do this with your lawyer. Number nine, and this probably needs to come at the beginning of the representation, but as the case develops and the issues change as discovery is ongoing, records come in, depositions are taken, whatever is going on in your case.

Number nine is communicate expectations. . So in the beginning we talked about that. We touched a little bit on that, but you want to absolutely communicate. your expectations. Managing expectations is different. That was number four. Managing expectations is really up to the lawyer, but if your lawyer is not managing those expectations with you of what you can expect, both the up and the down of it being completely transparent, then you wanna ask the questions.

Communicating your expectations. Number nine is something different. You wanna make sure you are transparent and you’re telling your lawyer, Hey, this is what I expect. This is how I expect our case to run, meaning, The lawyer ultimately has the, generally, depending on the state, has the authority to, to run their case, but you wanna understand the expectation of what that looks like, right?

And what you expect. And if that can’t happen for some reason, then you wanna know that you wanna communicate your expectations as to a trial budget, right? For example, if you’re going to trial, what can I expect? What can I expect in a deposition? You wanna communicate what you are thinking, and you want your lawyer to communicate back with you, so it can be surrounding most any issue, right?

From the way that they practice law, meaning their, their procedures, in-house, in their office, to communicating expectations at a trial level. So make sure that that happens. Number nine, communicating your expectations number. understand. Okay, number 10, I wrote down, don’t harass your lawyer. Lawyers are busy and what I mean by that is look good.

Lawyers have a good load of cases. They are busy. If someone is not busy, that it should be a red flag to you. Lawyers, family, lawyers with experience are busy. they have, you know, they have a good amount of cases and so. , if you are demanding information, this goes with, you know, calling them and communicating with them on a daily basis, that’s not good.

You have to understand that, look, I know you’re impatient. I know you wanna get through the divorce quickly, or whatever the issue is that you’re dealing with, but the bottom line is that lawyers are busy, so give them time to get the work done. If they are drafting something for. Let’s say it’s a settlement agreement and you are expecting to review that as you should before it goes out to the other side to give your stamp of approval, and they tell you today that they’re going to draft it, right?

You’ve talked about the terms. You wanna put it into the marital settlement agreement, get it over to the other side in the hopes of settling your case. It’s gonna take some time for them to get that accomplished if they’re doing it correctly. So ask them, put them on the spot. When do you think I’m going to receive the draft of this marital settlement agreement?

Tell them to give you a date. Put it on your calendar. Okay. And then follow up if you need to. Hopefully you wouldn’t need to, right? But you want to make sure that you understand that lawyers are busy, good lawyers are busy, and so give them the time to do the work that they need to do. . So those are 10 tips about basically being a good client and you know, it’s important that you take this into consideration.

Now, I could go on with others over 10, right? Because it’s really unique to your personality. The facts of your case, the urgency of the issues. For example, if you have a child that’s in danger, right? And so the lawyer is filing an urgent motion or an emergency motion with the court, obviously that’s something that needs to be done expedited, right?

And you want to make sure it’s getting done. And obviously you have concerns on this. You know, that’s one thing, but if you’re in just a typical divorce, you have to understand both how the practice works, the firm, how the legal system works, the procedures of how you get there, managing expectations. And on.

Okay, so I just wanted you to have some insight today on what this looks like from both sides. From the lawyer side, having run a firm for over 25 years, and of course, from the client’s side, being a good client is imperative. Okay. And having frank and transparent conversations is needed. All right, my friends, listen, I know it’s more legal today.

Well, I’m gonna have a guest next week, I believe. So, uh, don’t wanna share that yet until I confirm it, but I wanted to, uh, just give you these. Tips. Hope you have an amazing day. As always, if you need me, if you want me, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at any time. I’m always here and available for.

You and listen, you are amazing. You’re gonna get through this divorce, you’re gonna get onto your best life, okay? So wherever you are emotionally, I’ve got your back and we’ve got the tools all here and all the episodes to help you get there sooner. Then later. All right my friend, have an amazing day.

Love yourself. Be kind to others, and remember, yes, you can have an amazing life after divorce. All right, see you next week.

You have the vision of what you want your life to look like after divorce, but maybe you just don’t know how to get there. So if you’re ready to take control of your life and want to find out more about our coaching, visit [email protected]. That’s l a d as in life after Until next time, have an amazing rest of your day and remember.

Yes, you can have an amazing life after divorce.

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