QUESTION: I am represented by a big firm, which advertised personal injury on TV. I have never met or spoken with an attorney. Instead, I am assigned a “case manager”. Is this right?
I hear this all of the time. I have been told by clients who leave that big firm for another attorney that when they asked repeatedly to talk with an attorney, they were told “The attorneys are busy, and don’t have the time to talk to you. That is why I am assigned to your case.”
MY RESPONSE: OK, are you kidding me???
Often we see commercials on television or hear them on the radio, from a law firm that tells you almost anything in order to handle your case. Need money? Need a check? Call us! Discount fees? Call us, we are the cheap law firm!
You have been in an accident. You are injured. Your life has been turned a bit upside down. Do you really want a “discount lawyer” in your case? Does it make any difference that you never even get to talk to that “discount lawyer”, but instead must settle for a “discount assistant” who is untrained and uneducated in the law?
Recently, a client who was formerly represented by one of these advertising firms came to see me. She was in pain, and needed direction for her case. She was not getting it from her “case manager”. Rather, she told me that when she informed her case manager of her continuing medical issues, the case manager responded “Look ma'am, I have medical problems too.”
What happens when the law firm you thought you were going to be working with starts to avoid you? When they tell you things like this? When you cannot talk to your attorney because he is “too busy”? When the law firm you hired to help you doesn’t really seem to care, and the help isn’t coming?
If you can’t speak with the Attorney you thought you were going to deal with and you are constantly being pushed around on the phone from one legal assistant to another, it’s time to go. And, don’t walk. Run!
Find an attorney and a law firm that stands behind what they tell you. Make sure your ATTORNEY is accessible. Make sure that you have answers and updates that make you feel like your case is being handled correctly.
Arizona law allows you to switch attorneys at any time. If your attorney tells you otherwise, he/she is not being honest. However,, if you change, will you owe the previous law firm anything? Perhaps. This is a good topic of conversation for you to have with your new attorney, in the initial consultation.
Attorneys and law firms exist to serve the public, to help you through the tangle of legal matters that you do not understand and perhaps are in no condition physically or mentally to learn as you go. We are here to help you—it is not the other way around.
If the communication and vibe you get from an attorney or law firm seems otherwise, even if you have already signed their paperwork, it is not too late. You have the right to look elsewhere. Perhaps it is time.