This article is by Marc Albert, a leading Long Island personal injury lawyer. Communication is fundamental when it comes to an attorney providing you with effective representation. If you find yourself with an attorney who is not returning your phone calls, and other communications, you may wonder what steps you need to take in response.
Check Yourself First
The first point you need to consider when it comes to the matter of your attorney and phone calls is making sure you have a legitimate complaint. There are some instances in which a client’s expectations regarding phone calls and responses to them are now reasonable. There are cases in which some clients overdo when it comes to telephoning their attorneys. Moreover, there are occasions in which clients are unreasonable in regard to the timing of return phone calls from lawyers.
By objectively checking yourself first, you can rest better assured that you have a valid issue regarding your lawyer and an issue regarding the returning of phone calls. You might want to visit with someone you trust regarding the phone call issue before you take any additional action.
Write a Certified Letter to Your Lawyer
Overall, emails are acceptable ways of communicating in writing with your lawyer. However, when it comes to addressing an issue of not responding appropriately to your phone calls, you simply cannot rely on email as the conduit for conveying this concern to your attorney.
When there is a bona fide issue regarding your attorney’s failure to maintain proper communications with you, including a failure to return phone calls appropriately, you need to use certified mail to convey your concerns to your lawyer. By taking this course, you will be able confirm that you did send a letter to your attorney expressing your concerns regarding communication issues.
Within the letter, you need to specifically spell out that your lawyer is not properly communicating you about your case. You should take the time to cite specific examples, including dates and times of unreturned phone calls.
You need to be firm, but respectful, in your communication. You need to tell your attorney that you will seek new legal representation if your attorney does not rectify the communication situation immediately. In addition, you need to state that if the communication matter is not corrected, you will file a complaint with the bar association or attorney licensing authority, which ever organization or agency in your state handles attorney complaints.
Maintain a Log
When you begin to detect an issue regarding communication, you need to start maintaining a contemporaneous log. By this it is meant you need to make a register of when you call your attorney, including the date and time. You may also want to log in when you sent emails to your lawyer as well, despite there existing another obvious record of that type of communication.
Keep in mind that some people actually maintain a phone log in regard to an attorney from day one. They do this to take a more proactive stance in the event that a problem or issue arises.
You need to understand that if your attorney is not maintaining proper communication with you, there may be some other issues in regard to your representation as well. The reality is that when an attorney is having an issue in one area, he or she is likely to have issues in other aspects of your representation as well. For example, your attorney may be missing deadlines or failing to file documents in a timely manner.
Because of the potential for other issues, you need to follow up with issues surrounding your case more generally. You have to take steps to insure that your legal interests are not being harmed in some manner because of oversights or negligence on the part of your attorney.
If you are in the midst of court proceedings, and are not able to make appropriate contact with your lawyer, you may need to consider contacting the court about the matter. This can be accomplished by calling the judge’s chambers and request to speak to his or her administrative assistant or bailiff. You do not need to go into great detail. You only need to advise the court that you are having difficulties maintaining contact with your lawyer.