Sure, lawyers are used to being the butt of jokes and even being hated. And sure, this is almost universal. Aside from the spouses, parents, grandparents, and children of attorneys, there are not too many folks out there talking about how great lawyers are… maybe that’s because most people don’t interact with attorneys until something has gone wrong – sometimes very wrong. Perplexing as it may be, some people enter the attorney’s office, hire the attorney, and then continue as if the attorney is still the butt of some joke. Most attorneys just take it and move on. However, worth noting is that in a recent survey, one of the most miserable jobs in America was the Associate Attorney. Now, of course, not every attorney hates his or her job. I know I like most days. That said, if you’ve begun to notice your attorney doesn’t seem to want to respond to your emails or take your calls and maybe schedules in-person meetings only begrudgingly, you may have just pissed your lawyer off. And maybe you don’t even realize it – so that’s why I’ve put this list together for you. Here are 5 things to avoid if you want to avoid pissing your lawyer off…
- Lie to Them – two folks not to lie to: your doctor and your lawyer. Now, likely you won’t die if you lie to your lawyer, but you sure as hell stand a good chance of losing your suit or exacerbating your legal problem. You and your lawyer need to have a relationship built on trust (and, by the way, it’s confidential… so why lie?). If you don’t trust your lawyer, find a new one. If your lawyer doesn’t trust you, you’re likely going to be finding another one, too.
- Call or Email Incessantly – we understand this is a stressful time for you, and when we took you on as a client, it’s because we wanted to help you. But, keep in mind, we have many clients and packed schedules. It doesn’t mean your case is being ignored, it means that your five emails with stream of consciousness thoughts could wait until the end of the day. And, as an added bonus, don’t think your response will get faster if you get angrier, curse, or end with any form of how we should govern ourselves.
- Email Articles You Found On Facebook – sure, I went to three years of law school and spend countless hours keeping up-to-date through going to lectures and reading big, thick, boring books, but your article from buzzfeed will be the game-changer in your case. It won’t. And, yes, you will piss off your lawyer with your “thought this might help.” If you want to send me a picture of a puppy skateboarding or a cat attacking a vacuum cleaner, I’m all for it, but just so you know, they’re just as useful in your case.
- Ignore Directions – If your attorney tells you not to contact the opposing party, don’t contact the opposing party. If he or she tells you not to post something on Facebook or elsewhere, don’t post something. Frankly, when you hire an attorney for strategy to obtain your goals, he or she will create and execute that strategy. But when you start your own strategy, it hurts the attorney’s strategy…and his is better. Listen… or find a new lawyer.
- Leave an angry voicemail after 8pm – Even if you have a legitimate reason you’re mad at your attorney or, well, anyone, it isn’t going to be solved by a voicemail. And, no, they are not going to call you back at 8pm, even if the phone beeps and beeps. If it is an emergency, then, sure, if he gets it, he’ll call and help out the best he can. If it is you calling about how mad you are that he didn’t call you back from your previous two messages you left at 5:30pm, he’s probably going to listen to the message, and be grumpy around his family. He won’t like that (and neither would you). You will get a call back in the morning, and, no one is going to be happy.
Of course, some of these have varying degrees of bad, but in general these are the big ways to piss off your lawyer and hurt your relationship. Sure, sometimes lawyers screw up and sometimes they are legitimately an ass, but there are better ways to handle it. If you have an issue with communication with your lawyer, schedule some time to speak with them and address it calmly. Some lawyers just need to know how you communicate and you need to know how they best communicate. Maybe the problem is that you’re a phone person and they’re an email person – easy solve. However, if you truly think your lawyer is the butt of a joke, you need to find a new lawyer. Remember, if you aren’t comfortable with your lawyer, you’re unlikely to get the ideal results for your case. In Florida, there are some 90,000+ lawyers – gotta be a good fit for you out there somewhere…