The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark search twitter facebook feed linkedin instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content

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.


  1. Gravatar for John Hopkins

    Mike: Great article and well needed. We, too, receive calls from clients disenchanted with their lawyers. Most often the genesis of the problem is exactly as you point out: communication. It is seldom in the client's best interests to "change horses midstream" and it can sometimes cause damage to the client's case.

    We have always made a practice of counseling those people who call to make an appointment with their present lawyer and sit down to have a frank, heart-to-heart talk with them. Usually this solves the problem.

    Your checklist is a very good one and I hope you will not mind if we appropriate it.

Comments are closed.

Of Interest