Law from a legal assistant’s point of view, week 14: Preparedness and Honesty

By Quinton Lister, Legal Assistant

My new job as a legal assistant to a divorce attorney has opened my eyes to the necessity of preparation. There are emergencies and surprises that come up constantly in the practice of divorce and family law. For instance, sudden motions filed by opposing counsel, accusations from a client’s ex-spouse of abuse, or the sudden death or retirement of a judge. In order to counteract the effect of being caught off guard, it is essential to prepare for the things you have some control over, and to be prepared for emergencies and setbacks. 

“What are those things I have control over in my divorce case?” you might ask. Well, I am not an attorney yet, so I cannot answer that question fully. But one thing I have noticed since I have been working for a divorce and family law attorney is that you need to be completely honest, fully forthcoming, and transparent with your lawyer. The more honest you are with your lawyer, the better prepared the lawyer can be for any curve balls that might come your way. The less honest you are, the harder it is for the attorney to do his or her job well. Hiding the truth is wrong, but if that’s not reason enough to convince you to tell your attorney the truth and the whole truth, hiding or trying to hide the truth usually fails and often backfires. Your credibility is crucial to your divorce and family law case. Damage or lose credibility and you almost surely damage or lose your case. Being completely honest and forthcoming with your attorney best enables your attorney to consider and argue your best defense. That does not mean that you should work with your counsel to escape the consequences of wrongdoing, but one thing is certain: the odds of a better outcome in your case are commensurate with how honest you are with your attorney.  

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