Why It’s Important to Tell Your Lawyer Everything at the Beginning

Lee Berlin
The only practice in Oklahoma limited to servicing clients charged with sex crimes and crimes against children

When clients come in the door to meet me for the first time — it doesn’t matter if they are innocent or guilty — all of them are thinking to themselves is, “How much should I really tell this guy?” We got a couple components to that question. The first one is: How much would you tell somebody you just met for the first time and you didn’t know them? We’re talking about the most intimate embarrassing details of your entire life. How much would you really feel comfortable sharing? “Well, hey, don’t worry about it. Everything you say here is completely confidential.” Okay, but you can slap a guarantee on something too, and it doesn’t mean anything.

I tell my clients, “You tell me the very first time we meet as much as you feel comfortable telling me. But it sure is hell will help you if you told me the bona fide truth from the very beginning because all of my advice, all of my council, and all of my legal decisions are going to be based upon the facts. And as I have said before, the defense begins with you. So if you withhold in the beginning, you’re slowing down my ability to mount the defense and to create the themes and theories that are necessary to properly defend you. That being said, I have never had a client and I don’t expect any of my clients to come in here and just give me the complete unvarnished truth. I must earn their trust.  And as I earn their trust, they feel more comfortable telling me the truth — more of the truth comes out.

But how much should you tell your attorney? You should tell them everything in the beginning.