From time to time we get phone calls from individuals who are represented by other attorneys. These people range from a whole list of complaints naming the individual to people who do not want to say a name because of some sort of fear that by saying the name they will stop talking to them. In almost every case, I give the exact same advice:
“Make a list of every single question you have, set up an appointment with a lawyer, and sit down and talk this out.”
1. My advice is based on a couple items. The original lawyer knows the case from the very beginning. Consequently, anyone getting involved later is not going to know the path that the case took to get where it is today.
2. At some point, the person had confidence in the original lawyer by signing up with them. At least take the time to see if you can rekindle whatever started the employment to begin with.
3. Every lawyer has a group of cases that have big issues or messes, and it is a lot easier for someone to work on their own mess than take a new one on.
4. If I have authority from the individual who called, I call up the lawyer and let them know that there are concerns their client has. It is not unusual for the lawyer to be surprised that there is even an issue. It is important to remember that communication is a two way street. Therefore, if you are a client and you have complaints, you should be talking to your lawyer about them. Talking to your brother, curbside lawyers, or random people on the street is not going to get you effective answers. It also gets you real crappy legal advice. Your lawyer does not read minds and unless you tell them what the problems are they have no way of knowing. Plus, they are never too busy to talk to you.
As I have advised clients many times, your case is important, but I understand it is far more important to you for the many personal reasons and the personal losses. Communication helps us understand what those losses are and also deal with each problem. I do not want my clients to have to look somewhere else for help, so I am thankful for the lawyers who have taken those calls and advised me of problems that I was not aware of.
As always, the key is communication.
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.