What can you do when your lawyer ignores you? 3

Bringing you up to date:

On February 4 I introduced you to Part 1 of the problems — penultimate, I fervently hope — I’ve faced in getting Dinkes & Schwitzer, the personal injury lawyers representing my broken metatarsal, to respond to its owner, me. I signed settlement documents in November and was now receiving information from Medicare that needed to be responded to. By, I assumed, my lawyers. I mean, you know. They are my lawyers working on this case, right?

But my lawyers did not return my e-mails. So I did all the work for Medicare myself.

I followed up with Part 2 on February 9, in which I published the entire letter I sent to William Schwitzer, the name partner in the law firm.

My post ended ended with a question: “Now do you think I heard from these people? You bet I did.”

Sidebar advice: A long time ago, when I worked for Malcolm Forbes, I learned that if you have problems with an entity, always write directly to the CEO, the head of the firm. Don’t ever settle for contacting the VP of Angry Customers, or whoever. Go right to the top.

My brother fine-tuned the methodology. When his wife was having problems with the Big Bank whose CEO was Walter Wriston, my brother, a young curmudgeon, sat down at his typewriter and wrote a series of letters addressed “Dear Walt.” It got results.

So a few days after I sent that letter directly to Schwitzer, I received a series of phone messages from a Dinkes paralegal, on the order of, “This is [blank]. Could you please call me about your case.” Around the third message, she was sounding kind of nervous.

I didn’t return her calls — I was (genuinely) out — for several reasons. First, although I can control my anger when I write, I’m not always sure about what will happen when I speak to someone directly, mid-anger. I needed a hiatus in which to cool down.

Second, my experience with Dinkes’s paralegals has not been encouraging; her inability to respond fully to my concerns would, I knew, exacerbate my irritation.

Third, she doesn’t deserve my anger: her bosses do. As an ex-law firm worker, I had clients take out their frustrations, angers and pain on me. I was empathetic, yes, but it was their lawyers who should have been listening to them and responding.

And fourth, I felt my letter made it pretty clear that I now expected one of the partners to deal with me directly; I had had enough of the endlessly shifting associates, the “he’s no longer with the firm” associates, and the not fully knowledgeable (and endlessly shifting) paralegals.

So I did not return those calls.

Next: What can you do when your lawyer ignores you? Part 4


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