Lawyers are busy. They often get backlogged. Trial lawyers, in particular, with their long hours in court, are notoriously slow in returning phone calls to clients. Yet every law office owes an obligation to its clients to maintain open and regular channels of communication. It is a two-way street. On one hand, the client must understand that the lawyer cannot get on the phone every day, particularly if there is nothing new to say. The client must also consider alternative methods of communication which may be much less time-consuming for the attorney, such as emailing and text-messaging.
On the other hand, the attorney cannot ignore phone messages, or pass off every aspect of the case to his secretaries and paralegals. The client is entitled to meaningful updates, and these should be scheduled with some consistency, if even only to assure the client that the file is being regularly monitored and not ignored.
When Does this Become Malpractice?
A client has reason to become concerned about the progress of his case whenever he has not heard his attorney’s voice on the phone for a long time. Even if he has spoken to his lawyer, the context of the call is important: Did the attorney speak with you about the substance of the case? Or, did he or she ramble on aimlessly? Did the attorney provide helpful and meaningful guidance about the position and status of the case? Or did he or she give broad and non-specific assurances that “everything is going well” without providing any real details?
The client is entitled to meaningful phone calls. If you are not getting any phone calls from the attorney, or the phone calls are simply filled with aimless and meaningless assurances, you may want to look deeper into the attorney-client relationship. More than once, we have found that an attorney that is incapable to talking about details during a phone call with the client is an attorney who has been ignoring the client’s file for a significant amount of time — and may very well expose the client to greater damage in the long run.
At the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick, we schedule our clients for “phone conferences” at fixed times. When we miss an phone call, we set you up for an “appointment by phone” so that we don’t miss you again. We invite you communicate with us by email, by text, by fax, via our Website, Facebook and other social media pages.