Common Communication Problems (Part 3)

Communicating with other people

In your professional dealings, you will communicate with many individuals such as your bank personnel, landlord, office staff, different experts and court staff.  Make sure that they understand your role and responsibilities with respect to your dealings with them.  There will be differences in the way you interact and deal with the accounts manager for a company that stores your records, and a potential witness in a case.  Although the nature of various relationships is different ensure that you always communicate in a professional manner.
When you are dealing with people you have contracted services from (for example for storage, delivery services or your landlord), ensure that you uphold your contractual obligations. Pay your bills on time. Confirm your contracts in writing and keep copies of all contracts. Ensure that your office systems capture routine billing requirements, and build the time into your practice to manage the business of your practice. Unpaid practice debts can lead to contractual liability, but can also lead to professional conduct consequences, see rule 7.1-2 of the Code of Conduct.

Communicating with experts

As with anyone whose services you are using, pay all expert witness's bills in a timely manner. If you no longer require the services of an expert, advise them as soon as possible, and in writing. Failure to inform the expert in a timely manner may result in lost time and opportunity for the expert.  The expert may also expect to be compensated for their lost business opportunities.
Pick the right expert for the case. Do your research and ask questions before retaining the expert. Consider issues such as who is responsible for paying the expert when you are retained on a contingent fee. Before retaining an expert, determine how their fee is calculated and obtain instructions from your client authorizing the use of the expert.
Use particular care when addressing an expert, whether you employ her as a witness or information provider, or if she is on the opposite side of a matter. Always treat experts with professionalism, and remember that you may require their services in the future.