This is not a question that can be answered in a vacuum. It depends on the client, it depends on the case. Most cases involve procedures that are important, but very routine to the lawyer, and in which the client's participation makes no difference. Some clients like to be updated constantly, some prefer to let the lawyer worry about the matter and get on with their lives unless their direct involvement is required.
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To echo Mr. Brophy:
it's fact specific and client specific. If you are the type who likes to be in the loop about everything and anything that relates to your case, then communicate with the attorney about it. Most all of my clients have taken the hands-off approach, leaving the legal work to the legal professional; they only wish to be updated when something relevant or something that requires their attention is in the works, or, if there will be a prolonged period of inactivity.
Keep in mind that, depending on the arrangement of your fee-structure, your attorney may very well bill you for each phone call you make to him to discuss the case, or each letter you request to update you on the same.
To use a common-place analogy; if you hire roofers you expect them to do a quality job. You may have general questions regarding status and such, and they (much like your attorney) should be more than willing to provide those updates; just ask. But, if you want a play-by-play from the roofers, it will take a lot longer for them to fix or re-roof your building; expect to pay for the increased labors.
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