I wonder how many case problems are created by clients talking to people outside of their lawyer. It is amazing how much bad advice there is on TV shows or statements made by relatives. In dealing with these issues over time, the advice seems to come in three areas:
1. The relative will fight with every ounce of your blood. These are often people who would be horrible jurors, have strong beliefs against lawsuits, but believe that you of course are going to get screwed by the lawyer. Considering they do not like the lawyer to begin with, I would say that this advice is always tainted. The reality is, they talk about fights or issues that they have no idea about.
2. A person who claims they have gotten millions of dollars or that their uncle got billions of dollars in a recent case. I am amazed at how many times I hear about people who have gotten number of dollars when I know that they got nowhere near even a small percentage of that total. However, they give advice based upon total results that never really happened.
3. A distant lawyer/relative who does not even practice in the area of the law. At times we will hear from real estate lawyers from California or probate lawyers from New Jersey who are trying their best to be fair or to help their relative, but in reality they have no clue what they are talking about. Nearly half the time, when you call them they will admit they really did not know what they were talking about and they were just trying to help. Every once in awhile though, they will get involved in “laws” that do not even exist in Minnesota.
4. That person who just wants to tell the client what they want to hear. These are the well meaning neighbors and friends in the bar who will give advice based upon what they remember from the recent episode of ‘The Good Wife.’ Usually it is advice that would be great if the law was written in that manner and if insurance companies were as efficient and responsive as the commercials say.
If you have a good, experienced personal injury lawyer, they should be able to answer your questions. They also should have your interest through their representation. Also, their communications with you are privileged which means nobody can ask them about what took place. Whereas that person on a bar stool could end up being a witness in your case, they are not prevented from saying whatever their memory is of what took place in the conversation.
You hired the attorney for a reason, because they are skilled in taking care of your case. There is a certain amount of trust there, but at the same time you owe them at least the chance to try to deal with each of your questions the best way that they can represent you.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.