In brief - It is vital for you to communicate all aspects of your matter
Choosing any consultant will always be a challenge. One of the key ingredients for success when selecting a lawyer to advise and represent you is being able to communicate all the aspects of your matter and how you see your best possible outcome at that point.
There are several things to consider at the outset.
Communicating all the issues that are material to the problem
Prepare a list of all the facts and the issues that concern you and assemble all the material that you wish to set out at the first meeting. This information should be detailed enough to enable your lawyer to assess the situation and determine what further information may be required.
Will the lawyer that you have chosen be competent?
Presumably you selected the lawyer you are meeting on the basis of either the firm's reputation or a personal or professional referral, possibly received via Facebook or LinkedIn. However, before you decide to engage the lawyer, you should meet them in person to determine for yourself whether you believe in their competence and ability to achieve your desired result.
Is this the person that you want to represent you?
You should feel confident that you can work with your selected lawyer, that they and their firm fit your profile and that they align with the way that you want to project yourself to others. Even though part of the selection process will be subjective, you should also be guided by some predetermined objective criteria for what you expect from a professional.
Only one side is going to win in court
The law can be viewed as a shield or a sword depending on the result you seek in a negotiation or dispute. Beware of any lawyer who guarantees you a successful result in a court case. For hundreds of years there have been cases determined in courts where there is a winner and a loser. At some point in time both sides believed that they were going to be the winner, or the other party was going to be the loser.
Clearly, if either side believed they would lose from the beginning, a settlement would probably have been reached well before trial.
Consider the costs of litigation
Ask yourself, can you afford litigation? To determine a true answer you should consider the financial aspect, the time that it will take away from your business, the effects that the stress of expensive litigation will have on your health and the damage that could be done to your good name and reputation by any negative publicity.
You should also ask yourself whether you will be able to communicate your position well in a witness box and how good your lawyers, barristers and any other consultants will be at trial. Are they likely to crumble under pressure?
Litigation should be your last resort
After you weigh up these considerations, you may well decide that it is better to take a different approach. Ask yourself how the law can be used to give you the best possible commercial solution. What else might you need to do to achieve this result while mitigating all the identified risks?
Working with your lawyer to achieve the best possible outcome
There are a number of processes which will help you and your lawyer work together to achieve the optimal outcome. These include regular reporting, regular accounting to monitor your cost and transparency in the reviewing advice and correspondence sent to all parties, as well as regular review of your position, so that the goals set out at the beginning can be reassessed if necessary.
Above all, be committed to honest communication. You may have to face some unpalatable truths, but it is better to be fully aware of the reality of your situation all the way along than to be unpleasantly surprised further down the track.
This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2019.