Let’s go over an imaginary situation before we dive into the topic of if your lawyer is ignoring you. Suppose you met with an accident. After recovering from the initial shock, what would you do? Well, you will definitely like to meet a lawyer to legally establish your claim for any injury or damage.
After selecting an appropriate lawyer, you would go to his office and brief him about the case. The lawyer would listen to you carefully. Then, he will take over your file. Thereafter, he will brief you about the strategy he or she is going to adopt in the court. You get all convinced about the merits of the case. Next, you sign the contingency fee agreement and come back.
What happens if after some days you realize that you haven’t heard back from your lawyer? You may write an email or make a call and leave a message at the lawyer’s office. What happens if the lawyer or his firm still does not get back? You will definitely become anxious to know the reasons for the lawyer not responding. You will also dwell upon the resources you have to bring your case back on track. But, what exactly those reasons could be? What alternatives do you have if you get stuck in such an awkward situation?
In this article, we help you to find out why the lawyer is ignoring you. It will also cover what all you can do to bring your lawyer’s attention back to the case.
What Could Be The Reasons?
- No Imminent Deadlines
Cases such as personal injury settlements get hearing dates that could be months apart. There is a high probability that in the period between two subsequent dates the lawyer does not have much to do. Probably, he only needs to wait. He would contact you when he has to respond to interrogatories or the need for documents.
- Other Cases
Independent lawyers work on multiple cases simultaneously. Even, law firms assign multiple cases to a single lawyer. The lawyer then prepares his schedule depending on the preassigned dates of hearings of the cases. Since a lawyer has to deal with each of his or her cases with equal integrity and sincerity, lawyers tend to distribute their time equally among all their cases. They prioritize the dealings of a particular case only when it is nearing a hearing date. So, if you are trying to connect with your lawyer when your case does not have a deadline nearby, you may safely assume that the lawyer is working on some other cases on his or her docket.
- No Time to Chat
When a client meets a lawyer first time for a case, the lawyer, quite predictably, allows a significant time to listen to the client. Not only the lawyer is interested in impressing the client and picking up the case, he or she is also getting to know about the case for the first time. It would be wrong for the client to assume that his or her attorney would dedicate the same amount of time each time he or she meets them. Each subsequent meeting with the client is taking time taken off from other opportunities and other revenue-generating cases.
Therefore, it is not a sign of maturity on the client’s part to expect that a lawyer would attend him with the same alacrity each time. No time to chat at your lawyer’s end surely doesn’t mean that your lawyer is ignoring you.
- Lawyer’s Personal Time
Although a lawyer is contract-bound to represent his or her client, the clauses are applicable mostly during court hearings. A lawyer also works a fixed number of hours each day. Once those hours are over, the client should refrain from invading the lawyer’s personal time. Situations may arise when the client may need to contact the lawyer on an urgent basis. If that time is beyond working hours, the lawyer is in full liberty to not respond. However, the client may choose to leave a voice message and the attorney would soon respond.
- Lawyer-Client Contractuatlities
Oftentimes people related to the client tries to contact the lawyer on the client’s behalf. In such situations, the lawyer is well within his or her rights to not respond. The contingency fee agreement applies only to the person who has signed as the actual client on the dotted lines.
- Not Paying Attention to the Attorney’s Advice
Most of the time the clients discuss their cases with many people apart from the lawyer. These people give a variety of advice. Then, there is self-research on google. Under all these influences, the client often proactively follows some path not advised by the lawyer. Sometimes the client chooses to not act at all despite the lawyer asking him or her to do something specific. In such cases, the lawyers may choose to deal with the case as away from the client as possible so that he or she does not end up in an unfavorable situation during the hearing.
- Holding Back Bad News.
Apart from all the issues above, your attorney not contacting you may well be the result of his or her lack of communication skills. If your lawyer is not good at interpersonal communications, he may feel shy or reticent to get in touch with you in case he or she has missed a deadline or has done something wrong with document submission. This does not mean that your lawyer is ignoring you.
Your Lawyer is Ignoring You: What Does the Law Say?
Rule 1.4 of the American Bar Association defines the character of the client-lawyer relationship. To summarise, the code issues clear directives for the lawyer to promptly inform and reasonably consult with the client in circumstances where the client’s informed consent is required or the client needs to make informed decisions on possible strategies devised by the lawyer.
Your Lawyer is Ignoring You: What Can You Do?
If you are not frustrated with your attorney’s non-responsive nature, you can always go for a different lawyer or a different law firm. But, before going for a completely different attorney altogether, it is recommended to do follow some basic steps that may help you to understand the real reason. Following these steps is all the more necessary because it often gives birth to a lot of unwarranted complications if you choose to change your lawyer midway.
- Check the reviews of your lawyer from the online portals he or she has a profile in. Read the comments of the previous clients and try to ascertain if anyone else has reported non-communication. If someone has reported it, try to contact that person and get to know how the deadlock ended. However, if the reviews are good and it’s clear that the lawyer’s services are satisfactory for the majority of his clients, wait for a few days before ending the contract.
- Check all the places where his messages have the possibility of ending up unnoticed. Check your spam folder, voicemail, and physical mailbox regularly. Often lawyers send mails from their personal id which may end up in your spam if until now he or she has only sent mails from the official id. The opposite may also happen. It might be the case that you were busy in some meeting or were not home when the lawyer called you on your landline and resultantly the message ended up in voice mail. Also, check the corresponding address you had furnished to the law firm. If you had given your office address, then you should not expect the law firm’s mails to end up at your home address.
- Check the website of the law firm if you are trying to contact the attorney on the firm’s official contact number. It might have changed. Look for any updates on the company’s contact us page.
- If none of these above ways works, visit the law firm or the attorney’s office. The lawyer may be on a leave. Or, under more severe scenarios, he might have got disbarred or have passed away. All such details can only be known by visiting the office physically.
Despite all these efforts, if you fail to re-establish your communication with your attorney, you have all the rights to terminate the contract and get a different lawyer or law firm on board. But, before employing another lawyer, make sure that you do all the checks and inquiries beforehand that you might’ve missed for the earlier appointee.