I’ve been contemplating this question a lot lately because it’s not unusual for me to get calls from people who are either currently represented by other firms or have just terminated their relationship with another firm. What I have found from these discussions is that our firm does things differently than just about any other law firm.
The biggest complaint I hear from folks is that they hired a firm and then they never hear from them again. This can get pretty extreme too, as I’ve been told time and again that clients will call their attorneys, leave messages for them and then never hear anything back from the attorney or anyone else for that matter.
Even when return calls are not the issue, people tell me they are frustrated because they’ve simply never heard from their attorney after they hired them, or worse, they don’t even know who their attorney is because they’ve never met them and/or they communicate primarily with the attorney’s support staff (some firms have investigators or support staff sign new clients up). Then, when they do hear from the attorney it is for the purpose of reviewing a settlement proposal or to discuss going into litigation (filing a lawsuit with the court).
While this method of representation may work for some people, those who call my office are generally interested in being involved in their claims and would like to have more frequent (or any) communications with their attorneys. Some people are frustrated just because they want to understand what is going on in their case and be a part of it in providing input on how this has affected them. Other times they want to ask questions and understand the process because not knowing what is going on in their claims is stressing them out.
That’s not my method. The way I practice law is to have my clients involved in what is going on. To that end I meet with my clients regularly (usually once a month), whether by phone or in person, to discuss their claim. This accomplishes several things from my perspective. First, it allows me to meet with my clients and physically see what progress is being made in the healing process. Second, it allows me to get to know my clients and understand how their injuries are affecting their lives. Both of these are important.
By having regular communication, if I have to take my client’s case into litigation, the whole process is much easier for them because I have been able to prepare them for the scary things that can happen in litigation. This helps keep stress levels at a reasonable level (litigation is incredibly stressful on people) which is important because my theory is that if people understand what is going on, they are going to be able to handle the stress of it much easier. Another reason I think it’s helpful is because clients have built a rapport with me and feel more comfortable to ask me questions about things that may scare them, but that I am not aware. An added benefit is that if we end up in trial and I am at the podium asking my client questions, they are already accustomed to talking with me and understand what I am doing. This makes their testimony much clearer and again reduces stress because they are not talking to a stranger.
Beyond the litigation aspect, having these lines of communication allows me to understand what my client is going through so that I can accurately reflect how their injuries have affected their lives. This is important for one big reason, explaining the harms and losses that have been suffered by my clients because of the negligence of another person. And as you can probably guess, if I can understand how you hurt, I can better explain that to an insurer when I am negotiating the claim.
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