ATTORNEYS AND STAFF
Our office works together as a team, each doing those tasks which they can do most efficiently. The Associate Attorneys are billed out at a lesser rate; therefore, they handle much of the time consuming tasks involved in gathering information and day-to-day contact with the client. You will be dealing with all of us, together and individually, throughout the relationship.
YOUR ROLE AS CLIENT
This is your case, not mine. There are a great number of things that you must do during your case.
1. Be Informed
You should be as informed and as involved in your case as possible. You should read and understand any and all documents that are produced in your case. If you do not understand something, please do not ignore it or avoid asking questions, call and talk to us. If you need information directly from your attorney, you must make a phone appointment.
2. Keep A File
All correspondence and documents produced in your case will be forwarded to you. Please establish one file in which to keep all of your divorce related documents. Please bring that file with you each time that you visit me and each time you go to court or mediation. Also, have in your car all papers or other documents related to your case for all hearings, trials mediation regardless of what the office has told you you need for the same. It is better to have the documents out in the car than 30 miles away if something comes up.
3. Tell the Truth About All Facts
You should be totally honest with us on every aspect of your case and give all information about anything of importance to your case.This includes not only information helpful to your case but, equally important, all facts which might be harmful to your case. Chances are your spouse's attorney is going to find out about them anyway, so please do not let us be the last to know. Also, these "bad facts" are usually not as harmful as you may think.
In this respect, you do need to be made aware that any time that you are placed under oath at a deposition or a trial, you will be required to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If you do not, you subject yourself to criminal perjury charges. Likewise, Texas law requires your attorney to see to it that you tell the truth; therefore, when you are under oath, we cannot and will not condone any testimony by you which is less than the whole truth.
4. Information Gathering
Facts are the heart of your lawsuit. You will be given information sheets to fill out and requested to gather information and documents.This will be time consuming and tedious work, but it is extremely important. It must be done. You, the client, have a much greater knowledge of and access to this factual information than I do.Further, as you research and piece together this information, you begin to develop the necessary understanding of your case. Also, you can do this work at no charge to yourself, whereas if we are required to do it, we will be billing you for our time and labor. For all of these reasons, you should do as much of the information gathering, under the direction of our office.
5. Review Spouse's Documents
We will provide you with copies of all documents supplied by your spouse's attorney. It is very important that you review these documents immediately, familiarize yourself with them completely, and ask any questions or detect anything important or unusual in the documents (e.g., checks written for unusually high amounts or to unfamiliar persons or sources).
6. Decision Making
No final settlement of your case will be made without your approval and consent. Other major decisions will also be made with your approval and consent. However, you will need to give me the authority to make other decisions which bear on your case, but which involve professional judgment or courtesy. For example, I should decide how to phrase allegations contained in your pleadings and when to file the pleading. On occasion, your spouse's attorney may ask for a continuance or postponement of a hearing on a motion, deposition, etc.Resistance to a legitimate request of this nature is often not in your best interest. For example, I may know that your side will need to make a similar request in the future. I should be the decision maker for these and similar matters after consultation with you.
You, Tamra, Brandon and I are in an attorney-client relationship,which is special relationship. We owe one hundred percent of the allegiance to you and your case and owe no allegiance to your spouse whatsoever. I am required to represent you zealously, but within the bounds of the law.
Do not be mislead if you find me dealing with your spouse's attorney on a friendly basis. Professional and common courtesy dictate this. Good lawyers are perfectly capable of zealously defending and promoting their clients' best interest, without becoming personal enemies. Attorneys are in fact trained to be advocates for the children without becoming emotionally involved. One of the very reasons you hire a lawyer is to have someone on your behalf who not only has legal expertise, but who will not become emotionally involved. You want your lawyer to use her head, not her heart. Indeed, you should expect your lawyer to be objective and to remain unemotional on your behalf, because it will often be hard for you to do so.
Do not be mislead if you perceive that I am giving you a hard time or am not on your side. Our allegiance is only to you. 1) I am very direct with my advice-I do not mince words; 2) I have to impart important information that people do not want to hear. I do not much sugar coat it; 3) I often test your response to questions that the other side would have for you in court to see how your "story" plays.
By virtue of the attorney-client relationship, there automatically arises what is known as the "attorney-client privilege".This privilege prohibits from disclosure any information, whether communicated orally or in writing, between the attorney and the client, so long as the communication was intended to be confidential. Such communications also include all correspondence or documents from your attorney/staff to you, and vice versa (e.g., information sheets you prepare for us), as well as all telephone conversations and in-person conferences between you and me and my staff.
Caution: The attorney-client privilege exists only between you and your attorney and the immediate, in-house staff. The attorney-client privilege can be waived if the otherwise confidential information is disclosed to persons other than your attorney and the immediate staff. For example, if you tell your spouse something that your attorney has told you, then that information will lose its privilege from disclosure and will have to be disclosed by you in court. Also, the privilege does not exist between you and other persons who may be involved in your case to assist you (e.g., CPAs,appraisers, etc.). Therefore, be very careful what you say to these persons, even if they are "on your side", for anything you do or say may be required to be disclosed to your spouse's attorney.
Other outside professionals are sometimes hired to assist in divorce cases. It may be necessary to engage an appraiser, a tax expert, CPA, and other such professionals. I will discuss the necessity of these experts with you and hire only those that are necessary in your case and only with your consent. Caution:Again, even though these persons are hired on your behalf, information provided to them is not protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege (as discussed above).