One of the primary benefits in hiring an attorney is being freed up to focus on getting better. You want, and should be able, to turn the legal mess over to the professional. That being said, unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t work that way.
On the one hand, it is perfectly natural to have fears and doubts about your case after you hire a lawyer. These matters are challenging, frightening and take a long time. Usually, those fears are just natural second guessing. However, occasionally, those fears are warranted. How can you tell which is the case as it relates to you?
Ask your lawyer tough questions
Ask your lawyers where your case stands, and why it is where it is. Your lawyer should be able to give you a very good understanding of the process, where you are trying to get, when you can reasonable expect to get there and how he plans to make it happen.
There is nothing wrong with asking detailed status questions. On the contrary, if your lawyer makes you feel uncomfortable about asking questions, or worse, get annoyed with you, that is a huge warning sign. A good lawyer wants to know what your fears and concerns are. This is a team process. I do my best work when I know what you are thinking.
Attorney Warning Signs
While this list is not all inclusive, there are some warning signs that your lawyer may not be doing what he needs to do.
You’re Not Getting Proper Communication
Probably the most important aspect of the attorney- client relationship is communication. Your lawyer should talk or email you on a regular basis. If you never speak with your attorney, if he doesn’t return your calls and emails, you may well have a problem. If he or she seems annoyed when you ask questions, you definitely have a problem.
I talk to each and every one of my clients at least monthly. I return my emails and phone calls without exception within forty eight hours. If I don’t know what is going on with your case, who you feel and what treatment you are getting, I CANNOT DO A GOOD JOB!
Your Lawyer Doesn’t Know Who You Are
Even worse than a lawyer who doesn’t communicate is a lawyer who doesn’t know who you are. I am not suggesting a lawyer is should know every aspect of every client’s case off the top of his head. However, as a client, I would demand my lawyer be able to have a relevant, specific conversation about my case in short order. If your lawyer does not know who you are, what is happening, or how to address your concerns, you have a problem.
You Didn’t Actually Hire A Lawyer
The other important aspect of the above thoughts is to remember you hired a lawyer, not a secretary or paralegal. It is simply not possible for a lawyer to pick up your file for twenty minutes at the end of the case and figure out what to do. It is too late. You did not hire a case manager. You are paying a lot of money and deserve to actually be represented by the person with the legal degree.
The Simple Way
The simplest way to know if your lawyer is doing a good job is to find one who likes you, communicates with you and knows what is going on with your case. If your lawyer can do all of the above, you are probably in good shape. If not, you should trust your instincts and consider your options. While I think firing a lawyer is a last resort, I strongly recommend the concept of second opinions.