There was a time, very recent, that lawyers were begging for clients. We all sat around waiting for the phone to ring hoping someone was arguing over dishes or the trash… well, basically anything to get them in our office. I suspect there probably was an attorney somewhere instigating people. However, these days the phones are ringing more often. The clients a bit more cumbersome, and lawyers everywhere are able to turn clients away without wondering how they were going to pay for the overhead that month. That being said, some of the unfavorables are no longer being represented. There are people out there that, despite their pocketbook, lawyers will not represent. Actually, despite their case, and the lawyer’s need to win, their case is sitting there. Why? Here are a few reasons and how you can be a client that the lawyer wants to represent:
1. Showing up late or not showing up for appointments.
Regardless of whether you just made a brand spanking new appointment with a lawyer’s office (how exciting!!!) or you have been a long term client… Showing up late is a no-no. Lawyers run on time. We spend our time billing and preparing for cases. In order for us to be profitable and stay in business, we have to manage our time. Most lawyers will plan everything down to the minute, so when you show up thirty minutes late – they’re probably already helping someone a bit more punctual. Also – it shows that you don’t value their time. That indicates a lack of respect.
INSTEAD: Leave early or on time and show up on time. If you’re running late – then give us a courtesy call! There’s this newfangled thing called a cell phone. Almost everyone has one… if not two. Use it and let us know what’s up. We promise we won’t sue you if you give us a good excuse for running late. The first time… (kidding…)
2. Calling back to back without leaving a message.
Do you want the most cost-efficient direct answer to your question? Want the biggest bang for your buck? Want to avoid the dreaded “oh, I’ll have to call you back on that one… I’m going to have to check in to what the other side says.” Then do not call your attorney’s office back to back without leaving a message. One, it makes you look a bit crazy. Two, it makes us dread calling you back because there’s no telling what’s lurking behind all of those back to back phone calls. For all we know you could have just snuck some rat poison in your husband’s coffee and are feeling killer’s remorse.
INSTEAD: Leave ONE detailed message and wait for us to return your call. “Hey… I know I’m supposed to be in court on Tuesday, but I just left for Canada with all 5 of my children. Tell my husband, Mr. Rogers, I’m not in the neighborhood anymore…”
3. Asking the same question over and over again.
We don’t mind questions. In fact, we kinda ask them for a living. Questions are what make an attorney’s world go ‘round. We love giving information and answering questions. Shoot! Sometimes, if I don’t know, I’ll make up something crazy just to see if you buy it (not the law but just something simple like “why is my ex’s attorney such a terrible person? Because she grew up in the circus and though she always wanted to be a trapeze artist, they made her clean up after the elephants. Really? No.”) That being said – we will often answer client’s questions in email, on the phone, in person, by carrier pigeon. Our office has a policy of following up with the answer to your question in writing whether it be by email or letter. With that sort of thorough behavior, it would be a shocker if a client said we didn’t answer their questions… and ask them again… but they do.
INSTEAD: Listen. Before asking a question AGAIN, look through your email. I bet you that question has been answered. If your policy is “TLDR” (too long didn’t read), I’d suggest that you don’t get involved in litigation.