Lawyers behaving badly…

Which will be the title of my second advice book.

But dear readers, you are driving me nuts! Every day far too many of you find me here by searching on “My lawyer doesn’t call me,” or “what can I do if my lawyer doesn’t call me?”

I am in anguish over your anguish. I want to gather all of you up into a group … I was going to write “hug,” but no. A joint planning group, let’s call it, where we can all discuss more particular ways of coping.

I’ve written a lot about this before so I’m hoping that these search strings are not coming from regular readers. That is, I trust that regular readers have done something about their lawyers’ lack of communication.

So, here’s a little catch-up for what I hope are newbies at the “my lawyer doesn’t call me” bar:

  • Your lawyer should and must keep you informed about your case. (See your court system’s rights of plaintiffs and rights of lawyers.)
  • Your lawyer should and must return your phone calls or e-mails. (Same as above.)
  • If you’ve been direct and firm and still are not getting information from your lawyer, you can file a complaint against your lawyer with your state court’s disciplinary (or grievance) committee. (See my lengthy series here on Sidebar giving you step-by-step instructions on how to file a grievance in New York State.)
  • You can change lawyers. Tip: find your new lawyer first. Your new lawyer can inform your old lawyer that you’re leaving him, and can collect your files, just in case you don’t want to confront him yourself.
  • But give your lawyer one more shot. Ask for an appointment to discuss your case and your communication problems with him or her. Before you see him/her, write out for yourself a list of things that are bothering you, things you want to resolve with him/her. This list should include a plan for the two of you, a plan that incorporates your expectations, and his/her ideas about communication. Depending on your case, it may be an agreement that he/she call you or e-mail you once a month, just to bring you up to date or even just to say nothing much has happened, and explain what is likely to happen next.
  • But before you do any of that, check yourself to make sure you are not expecting that your lawyer be your best friend or psychotherapist, and available to you at all times. Make sure you haven’t been the crazy client, calling repeatedly, screaming and crying.

I hope that helps. As Alan Grayson always says, when ending his essays, “Courage.”

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