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BEING AN EFFECTIVE CLIENT

Legal services in the United States are used inefficiently. We tend to focus unduly on the resolution of existing disputes rather than their prevention. We treat law as a specialist concern to be left to attorneys. This parallels earlier views of medicine, before the idea of individual responsibility for medical decisions came to the fore. It is now accepted that a patient has the responsibility to make an informed decision about medical treatment; thus, patients must understand basic preventive medicine to become partners in protecting their medical health. In the same way, physicians must become sophisticated about legal services if they are to become partners in protecting their legal health. Being an effective, involved client has many advantages: it reduces the fear and uncertainty inherent in litigation; it reduces the risk of an adverse verdict; it can reduce legal costs for the physician or insurer; and it allows the physician and attorney to develop preventive law strategies to avoid future legal problems.



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