Written by attorney Ashley Buckman Schepens

Listen to your Lawyer!

When you feel sick, what do you do? You go to the doctor. And when the doctor writes you a prescription, do you take it? Hopefully. Why? Because you trust him. He went to school for a long time. He passed his board exams. He completed his residency. You assume he knows what he’s talking about.

When you find yourself in a position where you need legal advice, what do you do? You find a lawyer and you make an appointment. After your appointment, do you follow your lawyer’s advice? Hopefully.

So many times I’ve counseled clients and detailed explicitly how they need to act, what they need to say and what they can and cannot do specific to their case. Inevitably, someone always does the exact opposite, creating a big ‘ol mess of their legal problems. After the storm calms, I again counsel the client, careful to be even more specific and more detailed about their case.

This makes my mind wander as to why the client is paying me for legal advice when he or she is not going to follow it. If you want to sabotage your own case, you can do that for free. I understand that family law issues can be emotional and heated and you may sometimes act in the spur of the moment, but you can’t keep using that excuse over and over again. I promise that I know what I’m doing and I know exactly what I’m telling you to do and how I’m telling you to act. I am an outsider looking in. I have a different perspective than you do. You may not agree with what I’m telling you to do, but I do have your best interest in mind when providing you with legal advice.

I went to law school for 3 long, long years. I had an amazing mentor who owned his own family law firm that I clerked for during law school and eventually worked for as an associate after I graduated. I studied day in and day out for the Bar Exam. Passed the Bar Exam – once in Mississippi and once in Louisiana. I’ve handled many cases throughout my legal career. Not much in handling family law issues surprises me anymore – even when clients don’t always follow my advice. Most of the time, I can see it coming.

So what can you take away from this? Listen to me. If you don’t agree with what I’m saying, ask me why. I won’t bite your head off. I will stay on the phone or in the meeting with you until you understand the reasoning behind the advice I am giving you. I will help you to understand how to act or not act and what to do or not do that will place you in the best possible light in the eyes of the court. Our goals are the same, remember?

You went through all of the initial steps: 1) You looked me up or asked your friends and family for attorney referrals, 2) You took the initiative to contact me to set up an appointment, 3) You met with me and we discussed all of the details and developed a plan of action in your case, and 4) You signed the Retainer Fee Agreement and hired me as your attorney to represent you. Hopefully, I gained your trust somewhere in the first 4 steps, so keep trusting me throughout the duration of your case. I’m on your side. Trust me. Or ask me why and I’ll be glad to explain.

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