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Working with a lawyer can be confusing at times. Here are some tips on how to get started and how to work well with an attorney. 

1.  Visit more than one attorney to find out possible options for your case and compare fees. 

2. All lawyers should offer a written contract with the terms of your agreement. This means you should receive a document that tells you:

  •  How much money you will pay the lawyer and when the money is due;

  • What the lawyer will do for you;

  • What the lawyer needs you to do in order to be successful;

  • Any rules that the lawyer has about working with them.

If a lawyer does not offer a written contract, you should request one. If the lawyer refuses, you may want to speak with another lawyer. 

3. There are people who pretend to be lawyers. You can check to see if the lawyer is barred (allowed to practice law) in the state of Ohio here. Some immigration lawyers may be barred in other states. You should ask the lawyer where they are barred and if they will provide their bar number to you so you can check. You can also check if the attorney has ever been in trouble.

4. Schedule an appointment in order to meet with your lawyer. Do not just show up at the office unless you have been told otherwise. Some lawyers have staff who can help you if you go to the office, but the lawyer themselves will often be busy with other clients or working on cases. Lawyers are very busy.

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5. When you need to get in touch with a lawyer, you may have multiple ways to contact them. You may call their office, send them an email, and sometimes, the lawyer may offer you a number to text. Call the attorney’s office no more than once in a 24-hour period, leave a voicemail or a message with the office staff if they answer. Be sure to leave your name, number, and a detailed description of why you are calling. DO NOT CALL REPEATEDLY! Some clients will call several times in an hour. It will not improve your chances of getting through. In fact, such behavior may damage your relationship with the attorney. The attorney will get to you as soon as they are able. Generally, attorneys aim to return phone calls within 24 - 48 hours but depending on the attorney’s case load, it could take several days for the attorney to review your case and address your needs. 

6. Make payments on time. If you are having trouble making payments, speak to the attorney to see if accommodation can be made. The attorney wants to help you but the attorney also needs to make money. If you do not pay, the attorney can withdraw from representing you. 

7.    Follow the attorney’s instructions. If you fail to provide documents or to act in accordance with your attorney’s requests, it could damage your case. Taking actions without discussing it with your attorney could also harm your case. 

8.    If you feel you have been taken advantage of by an attorney, there may be recourse. You may file a complaint with the Ohio Board of Professional Conducor the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

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