Legal situations are stressful, but the anxiety of wanting to move forward while it feels like your lawyer is dodging you can be downright nerve-racking. Your attorney has an ethical duty to keep you informed. However, the information gathering that goes into cases is time-consuming. Chances are if you haven’t heard from your lawyer, he’s hard at work. In fact, you may want to operate under the rule of thumb that no news is good news.
If that last phrase isn’t something you can commit to, here are a few tips for what you can do when your attorney isn’t returning your calls:
- Leaving messages about why you’re calling, even recording your question, can be a game-changer. Especially, if your matter is urgent and must be discussed directly with your lawyer.
- If your detailed messages still get you no response, you may want to opt for making an appointment.
- If getting an appointment is turning into a goose chase, you can always drop by his office for a face-to-face conversation.
- If you don’t find your attorney at the office, you can check in with his assistant and ask why you haven’t received a callback.
- It could be that your lawyer hasn’t even received your messages.
- If the assistant can’t get the attorney to contact you, and your attorney is a lower-level partner you could contact the managing attorney or owner of the firm.
- They may get the lawyer to contact you at the very least or assign you a new attorney altogether.
- If you’re unsatisfied with the answers you get, you can send a final email or letter to your attorney’s office indicating that you will be seeking other representation.
- With personal injury cases you have the right to a second opinion and the ability to fire your attorney at any time, no questions asked.
It may be a good idea to ask the firm upfront what their callback policy is.
Keep in mind that cases like personal injury and workers compensation are lengthy by nature, so patience is key.
However, these cases operate under a statute of limitations (timeframe with which you have to get compensation) and if your attorney isn’t moving things along you may need to move on from his services.
Know that your attorney’s office has a paralegal on staff to help guide your case and answer your questions or provide you with case status updates.
While it is understandable that you want to communicate directly with your attorney, his job is to: investigate the details surrounding your case, work with medical providers to get you the services you require, accurately estimate the value of your case, negotiate on your behalf, and do all he or she can to represent your best interest. Here are the top reasons your attorney may not be getting back to you:
- They’re attending to other cases.
- You don’t have deadlines coming up, and there is nothing to report.
- You aren’t heeding his advice.
If you’ve exhausted your options and are tired of chasing your attorney down, a hiring new lawyer may be your best bet. When hiring a new attorney make sure to request your complete file from the previous firm (your new lawyer may handle this) and know that you have the right to file a complaint or grievance with the state bar regarding your experience.