Working with Your Divorce Attorney

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Divorce | Hemet, CA AttorneyFor many people, the first, if not the only, time they will have reason to work with an attorney will be for help during a divorce or uncontested dissolution. As a result, the majority of the population’s expectations on dealing with an attorney will have been dictated by television, movies, and other sources of popular culture. Perhaps you or someone you know has heard the horror stories of dealing with an attorney who is unresponsive, inattentive, or even rude and condescending. Have you experienced any of these?

While attorneys learn, like all professionals, to strive to work at the height of their intelligence, competency, and abilities, sometimes attorneys fall short of achieving these professional goals. If you are currently searching for tips on how to get the most out of working with your divorce attorney, it may be helpful to know a few things.

In addition to setting the professional bar high for skills, attorneys should be aware of the Rules of Professional Conduct, which dictate how attorneys should behave. In many cases, these rules are more than aspirational, or something to which to strive for; they are mandatory.

So what rules are mandatory and which lie within the discretion of each practitioner? The fiduciary duty and duty of confidentiality are two of the utmost required rules. The fiduciary duty owed to clients is similar to the one that financial professionals and doctors owe – they must act solely in your best interest when giving advice. The duty of confidentiality forbids attorneys from disclosing information to anyone other than the parties designated by the client as appropriate.

The duty to maintain contact with clients is one of the most important to clients, but it has an aspirational (rather than required) mandate.  In other words, the attorney must only make “reasonable” attempts to keep in contact regarding case status and upcoming court dates. If your attorney seems a little more distracted or unavailable than usual, it could be what is considered a “busy season” for divorce attorneys, as discussed in this recent article appearing in The Huffington Post. But if you are seeking more contact with your attorney, it could be more an issue of personality and professionalism rather than ethics.

Making sure that our clients’ best interests are served is our number one priority in this office. That includes keeping in close contact with you regarding the specifics of your family law case. So even if it is not the mandatory rule, it is a choice we consciously make. We believe that dealing with an attorney should not create any additional stress during what can be an already stressful time.

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About Julie Clark

Julie M. Clark graduated from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. She has been practicing law in Riverside County since February of 1992. Julie Clark's Google+ Profile

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