Is My Lawyer Normal?

Is My Lawyer Normal?

For whatever reason, I've heard some strange stories about things that lawyers have been doing lately. With the weather cooling down, hopefully everyone will get back to normal. But for the people that call me, I hear over and over, "Is this normal?" Let's figure it out.

Scenario #1: I've had a workers' compensation case for three years. I've probably called me lawyer 15 times and actually spoken to him maybe three times. He doesn't call back and if I can get anyone on the phone at all, it's usually his paralegal who knows nothing. Is that normal?

No it's not normal. It's awful and a big red flag. Some lawyers are lazy, some are burned out and others are just terrible at the customer service part of the job. Who knows if it's too late for this person to switch attorneys, but if it's not they should.

Scenario #2: I've been going through a divorce with the same law firm for two years. I interviewed one attorney at the firm and assumed she was going to take my case. I haven't seen her since and they've had four different young associates working on my case. Every time we show up to court they seem to not know what's going on and are ruffling through papers. Is it normal?

Unfortunately it's common, but it shouldn't happen. When you have a case it's your life on the line. If you lose, that's it. So if you want to right the ship you need to either get back with the attorney you thought you were getting or find someone else.

Scenario #3: I was arrested and since then have been flooded with letters from attorneys that want to take my case. I thought ambulance chasing was illegal. Does this normally happen?

It is normal. Scumbag (my opinion) attorneys get around the ethical law that says you can't solicit a client by putting "lawyer advertisement" on the letter that they send you. It's considered protected free speech no matter how awful it is. Criminal attorneys buy arrest records and send out mailers to everyone. It must work because we get this call a lot and it's usually from people that don't want their loved ones to find out they were arrested.

Scenario #4: My attorney told me that the insurance company offered $200,000 to settle my case. He is a little flaky so I asked to see written proof that the offer was made and he wouldn't give it to me. He did say that the other attorney sent a letter in writing. Is it normal for my lawyer not to share this?

It's not normal and it's actually bizarre. I can't think of any reason why this attorney wouldn't share this information, but it certainly is causing more harm that it's worth.

Scenario #5: I hired an attorney to investigate a medical practice case in 2010. They just got back to me that they are "too busy" to take on my case and informed me that if I only have until October to file a lawsuit. Now I can't find a new law firm to take it over. Is it normal for a lawyer to not take a case because they are too busy?

It's not normal and it's really just a lie. I assure you that if called them back and told them that your brother was killed by a drunk truck driver, they would magically find the time for you. Weak lawyers say that they are too busy when they don't want to tell the client that they don't believe they have a case. I'll bet a dollar that what really happened is this firm couldn't find a doctor to testify that malpractice occurred. Why these firms don't tell the truth is beyond me.

Scenario #6: I retained a "father's rights" law firm in Chicago to fight a custody case for me. In one month with just one court appearance and a total of 45 minutes talking to me, there bill was $12,000. I've already paid that and they are not telling me that if I don't give them another $15,000 they are going to drop me. Is that normal?

It's not normal for most law firms, but I can tell you that we get 1-2 calls a week about this particular firm and the story is always the same. They seem to gouge people for money who are in a vulnerable situation. They are very good at it so they usually get Judges to approve their fees even though it doesn't seem to compare to most family law firms that we see. But as a client of any law firm, if the attorney you talk to is mostly focused on money, be warned. And if they don't talk about money, you better get an estimate from them before you find yourself in this situation.


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    Once you get the client- friendly letter of engagement signed with your attorney, It's blue skies and tailwinds for you and your case. I have a copy from the book "your lawyer on a short leash" if anyone here wants it.

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  • More good advice.

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