Presenting Your Case to an Attorney

Saphronia R Young

Written by

Litigation Lawyer - Federal Way, WA

Posted June 15, 2013

Most attorneys do not agree to accept every case. Good ones don't! Some people find that while they firmly believe they have a good case, no attorney is willing to accept it. Here is a way to find out what you may be doing wrong. Follow this guide to present your case coherently.


Establish the basis of the duty or obligation that the other party owed you. Typically, this is either a statute or a contract or the "common law." Examples are: (1) I had a verbal contract with my neighbor to paint his house for $500. (2) I found a statute that says my boss cannot blacklist me with other potential employers. (3) I believe there are cases in Washington holding that it is illegal for my neighbor to cut off my only access to my own property.


If there is a duty or obligation that the other party breached, present it quickly without telling all of the ways in which this makes you angry. Example: (1) My neighbor refused to pay the agreed price after I painted his house. (2) Two potential employers said they backed out of the job offer because my boss called them and claimed that I stole money from the company. (3) My neighbor built a wall across the only ingress/ egress to my land.


You must then explain how this directly led to your legal complaint. Usually, this means you believe nothing else contributed to the issue. Example: (1) The paint job is beautiful and there is no excuse for my neighbor to not pay. (2) I have written confirmation that I was the top choice for each job, and but for my ex-boss calling, I would have received it. (3) This road has been in existence for 40 years, and my neighbor knows it is the only way I can get to my land to feed my livestock. [This is sometimes called the "but for..." part of your case. BUT FOR the other party's conduct, life would be good.]


This is also determined with an attorney's help, but you should list all of the impacts to you from the other party's conduct. (1) Not only did I not receive the $500 when I finished painting, but I only agreed to help him with his project because I was short my rent money. I could've worked an extra shift at my job, and gotten the overtime and paid my rent. Now, I am out the $500 and late rent fees, and I won't come up for overtime again for 6 months. (2) Not only did I lose those two jobs, but now I have to keep looking for work, my student loan deferral has expired, and I am concerned about how many others in our industry my ex-boss may have contacted. (3) My horses have to be moved, and I had to call the Sheriff to help me cross the land, and we had to drive around the barrier, and he refuses to remove it. Pasture rental elsewhere is $1,000 / month.

Additional Resources

Check out any legal bases for your claim in addition to what your instinct tells you. For example, go to the legislative website to see if there is a statute that also relates., "search" and hit the "document" button, then "RCW" for Washington statutes. Google your issue, and include "Washington" or go to the courts website, at "" to see if any cases are available dealing with your issue. Consider how much you are willing to do to organize your evidence, provide your witness contacts, write down a chronology (time line) of events, and generally sell yourself to your attorney, as well as the case, by appearing organized. Tell your story in the shortest possible way. Rambling on about hurt feelings is a major red flag. This can kill your attractiveness as a potential client.

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