Being a party to a lawsuit is stressful, no matter if you are a defendant or a plaintiff. From a personal injury claim to an immigration issue, the entire process can seem overwhelming and confusing. After all, you may only go through one or two lawsuits in your entire life – it is unfamiliar ground.
That is why it is important to choose the right attorney.
In addition to selecting a lawyer who is experienced, affordable, and believes in your case, it is critical that the attorney’s availability is considered.
Very often, people are surprised when they call an attorney from a law firm they have seen in advertising or on TV.
Although the face of the firm is familiar and seems friendly, most clients will likely be referred to another attorney in the firm. Perhaps they meet with that famous face initially – but never actually speak to them again.
This is not inherently bad but may seem unsettling if you hire a prominent firm but are passed to a less-than-prominent junior member of the company.
Once you have hired a lawyer to represent your case, communication is paramount. This is where attorney availability really comes into play – and differing views on an appropriate level of communication can become an issue.
For instance, your attorney may be completely qualified, have deep experience, and let you know immediately when there is something important to relay. But if you are waiting at the other end of the phone, hoping to receive an update, it can be very nerve-wracking.
You may feel that nothing is happening, or that your attorney is not paying attention to your case – when in reality he or she is simply waiting for a deadline or a response.
Because you are not familiar with the process, you may feel anxious, or have questions that are bothering you.
Attorney availability means that not only can you call or text your attorney, but that you feel comfortable doing so. You should never be made to feel that you are being a burden, or bothering your attorney.
After all, you are the client in this relationship.
At the time you hire your medical malpractice or personal injury attorney, ask to set some communication guidelines so that you feel comfortable that he or she is successfully managing your case. You may agree to:
- Set a schedule for communication, such as a weekly call or email to update status and ask questions. Have a list of questions ready for that call, so that you can be as concise as possible. You may agree to email any questions in one message prior to the call so that your attorney can run down the list.
- Decide upon the preferred method of communication, be it text, email, or phone call.
- Agree upon an acceptable response window for impromptu communication. Throughout the day, attorneys may be in court or with another client, so expecting an instant response is not appropriate. You may agree to a response by the end of the day or within 24 hours.
- Understand which types of communications may come through an assistant or paralegal, and which you can expect from your attorney. Knowing that your attorney is running the process can help to ease nervousness when you receive communication from others.
- Establish a window of time during which communication is acceptable. No one likes to be interrupted at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday, or on a weekend when they are with their families. Agree that if there is a perceived emergency, a quick text is appropriate. Your attorney will call back if necessary.
When hiring a Sarasota or Tampa area attorney, remember that people have different communication styles. An attorney who doesn’t communicate enough for your liking may still be highly experienced and successful. Still, it is important that you feel that you are being heard and that your concerns and anxieties are valid.
Therefore, hiring a firm with your desired level of attorney availability is critical to the success of your case.