WHAT EVERY CLIENT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT USING A LAWYER by Gregory White & Steven Naifeh Smith

WHAT EVERY CLIENT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT USING A LAWYER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Generally solid information--for people who need more than a do-it-yourself legal kit--on the basics of dealing with lawyers: finding them, working with them, paying them, and, if necessary, discharging them. The chapters on finding the right lawyer are especially good. Competent generalists are very hard to find, Smith and Naifeh stress, and legal clinics tend to be erratic in quality. Simply accepting a friend's recommendation is probably the riskiest course (people like to make recommendations, and what makes you think your friend knows more than you do?); bar association referral services aren't much better (the lawyers who sign up are usually inexperienced or incompetent). Instead, ask other professionals (e.g., if you need a tax lawyer, ask an accountant) or--an untapped resource--ask a professor at a local law school On fees: don't be a milquetoast--negotiate (one section outlines ""how to argue fairly with a lawyer over fees""); get the fee agreement in writing; and, if faced with a percentage contingency fee, try to set a sliding scale with the percentage decreasing as the recovery increases. Working with a lawyer, the authors note, places responsibilities on the client--to cooperate, to stay involved, to keep records, to be realistic about one's chances--but in return the client has the right to expect confidentiality, advocacy, honesty, and ""reasonable"" competence. How can you tell if your lawyer's incompetent?. One of the hardest problems a client faces, but Smith and Naifeh list a number of common situations which may suggest misconduct. For truly desperate cases, there's advice on when (and when not) to sue your own lawyer for malpractice. Though there are some dubious overgeneralizations here (e.g.; ""Lawyers in small firms are like family doctors. They're friends and counselors first, attorneys second. . .""), and some views on which reasonable people might differ (should you always reject out of hand any lawyer who refuses to negotiate his fees with you?), there's lots of good advice, too. Handy.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1982
Publisher: Putnam