I’ve been practicing law for a long time. I’ve learned that not all clients take the same level of responsibility in dealing with their criminal cases. I understand this. In my personal life, I have been known to try to ignore things and hope that they go away. They don’t. Things don’t just go away. Especially not criminal or DUI charges in California.
Clients frequently tell me that they feel better after they hire me. I’m glad to hear this. My job is to make things easier on my clients. But this doesn’t absolve the client of any responsibility at all. Please, please, please take an active interest in your case. Or in other words, help me to help you.
By getting involved, by communicating with me, by asking questions, clients help me to get to know them better. I get to know their cases better, their personal lives better, and I get a better understanding on the client’s personal situation. It really does help me to do a better job on their case. The more I know about a client and a case, the better I perform in court.
When I get calls asking: “Where is the courthouse” or “When is my court date”, it tells me that a client is not involved in their case.
On the other hand, when I get a client who sends me two or three or even ten specific questions about their case, I am happy to answer them. Usually these questions are interspersed with personal information about the client’s situation, like: I need my license for…, or My boss asked….All of this information is valuable to me in formulating a defense and/or negotiating a settlement for the client.
I don’t get mad when clients ask me questions. I get interested. Trust me when I tell you that you want your lawyer to be “interested” in your case. When I ask a client to read their police report and get back to me, it’s because I want to discuss the case with the client. I recently had a client ask me for a copy of his police report. Good move, taking interest in his case. I happily copied and sanitized 160 pages for him. Then he never called me back to discuss it. Bad move, pissing off his lawyer by making me do more work for no reason.
Check in with your lawyer regularly, at least once a month. Send an email: “Do you need anything?”. Leave a voicemail. Stay on top of your court dates, locations and status of your case. Talk to me before and after court, especially if you are not present in court. But please, I know there seems to be a tread away from voicemail lately. Don’t keeping calling and hanging up until I pick up the phone. Call me once, leave a message and I will call back. If you haven’t gotten a call back with 48 hours, then call again and yell at me.
Remember, not going to court is not necessarily a good thing for the client. While it is convenient and saves time, it disconnects the client from their case and their lawyer. If you are personally present in court, you get to see and hear everything that happens. You get to help pick the next court date if you want. You get so show your lawyer that you are taking your case seriously and that you are actively involved in the case.
Finally, if you have obligations to the court like AA meetings, or proof of completion of classes or anything else, please bring 3 copies of everything to court. Your lawyer is not your secretary. Let me do the legal work, but please help with the secretarial work. Please help me to help you.
If you have a criminal case in Los Angeles or Ventura County, I would be happy to speak to you about how I can help.
Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or email me: email@example.com