A patent attorney or agent will often act as the power of attorney for you with regards to the Patent Office.
Therefore, it's imperative your patent attorney or agent will correspond with you and keep you up-to-date on how the patent prosecution process is progressing. It is best if they are willing to send you copies of the correspondence they receive so you know exactly where you stand with the Patent Office. The examination of a patent may take well over a full year, so a good patent attorney or agent will form a solid bond with you and follow through with all the paperwork, keeping you posted on any news.
This makes a patent attorneys job twofold. First, he or she must file a well written application, complete with all the required paperwork, and novel, descriptive claims resulting in the broadest patent protection possible (that way, it will be less likely for a competitor to infringe on your invention). Second, he or she must act as the liaison between you and the USPTO throughout the long and tedious patent prosecution process.
This second part is very important. If even one deadline is missed, your application will be abandoned. That means all the time and money you have spent up until then was for nothing. In addition, the profit potential for your invention will likely dwindle down to nothing if you lose out on the patent.
The lesson is that if you choose to use a patent attorney or agent, you need to stay in touch with him or her and make sure they are doing their job. Do not just leave it all up to your attorney - your invention is far too important. Even if you have a patent attorney handle the correspondence, make sure you contact them frequently and let them know if you move - they may need to ask you questions, or they may need more money for fees that come up during the process.