You have a legal problem and decide you need a lawyer. When you meet with him, what do you want to hear? Most people want to hear that they’re in the right, and they should fight because they’ll win. You can get that from a mirror. What you should want to hear is questions – lots of them – about the circumstances underlying the dispute, followed by a discussion of the applicable law, the odds of prevailing, the risks of losing (would you have to pay the other guy’s attorney?), and the fees and costs which you could incur depending upon what happens as the case unfolds. That would include the possibility of mediation or arbitration instead of a traditional lawsuit, and the possibility of settlement.
What you don’t want to hear is assurances that you’re absolutely right, that the other guy doesn’t have a leg to stand on, that he’ll cave quickly, and that it won’t cost much. There’s a reason people keep saying there are two sides to every story – there are. Sometimes there may be more. Then there are the legal rules defining what’s wrong and what’s right, relevance, hearsay, burden of proof and so on. It’s along list. If your lawyer’s good, he won’t feed your ego by agreeing with everything you say and promising you the moon. Instead he’ll do his utmost to evaluate the case honestly and give you frank advice about where you stand and what you should do.
You should want to hear the truth, and often the truth isn’t what you expected it to be or wanted it to be. Listen. Be prepared to alter you perceptions. Seek a second opinion if you don’t know enough about the first lawyer to feel confident that he’s right. But don’t go through one lawyer after another until you finally find one who tells you just what you wanted to hear from the start. The advice will probably be wrong, and sooner or later you’ll probably regret you followed it.
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