April 2013 - Pg 9-Attorney Question
William R. Mayo
Mayo Law Offices
609 SW 8th St., Ste. 600, Bentonville, AR 72712
Just as an individual rarely can obtain a diagnosis from a doctor by phone likewise attorneys are reluctant to give opinions by phone.
The place to start is with an office conference. The facts of each situation as applied to the law of various jurisdictions can have differing outcomes. It is important that you establish a face-to-face rapport with your counsel to insure good advice.
Peter N. Georgiades
Greystone Legal Associates, P.C.
1712 E Carson St., Pittsburgh, PA 15203
This is two questions, with very different answers.
For a member to check to see if the lawyer’s understanding of the law comports with his own is a little like interviewing an oral surgeon to be sure he knows how to do a root canal; how would you know?
I am occasionally approached by a prospective client who seems interested in telling me what the law says, and is not very interested in being told their impressions are incorrect. I decline representation of such people as soon as I can politely do so. Lawyers have an aversion to prospective clients who come in the office looking for a lawyer who will feed their fantasies about what the law is. Not only is it annoying, it is a prescription for a malpractice claim when reality sets in.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with asking an attorney the areas of the law in which he or she practices, or if they would take a shooting case. If they say they do not do criminal law, take their word for it. They probably know their own practice better than you do. Otherwise, it is very unlikely one who undertakes to defend a shooting case would not know the law.
Determining the attorney is someone whom they want as their counselor is another matter. It is important that clients feel they can communicate well with their attorney, and they trust them. This goes beyond legal competence, and includes intangibles that make one person trust another.
It is not necessary a client actually like his attorney. But the time will come when counsel will recommend something about which the client knows very little and may have a great deal at stake.
Trust will be important. That kind of trust takes a while to develop, but one has to start somewhere.
If counsel is answering questions directly and has the good sense to be able to say, “I don’t know the answer to that, but I can find out,” those are good signs. If they are paying attention and you feel you can talk to them, those are also good signs. Speaking to references and talking to other attorneys who know your prospective counsel are also good ways to find comfort with a new attorney.
Lesavoy Butz & Seitz LLC
7535 Windsor Drive #200 Allentown, PA 18195
Home office 484-504-1345
I suggest the Network member call and/or email the attorney, indicating that they’d like to set up an appointment with him to discuss possible representation, and that they’re a Network member. I’ve gotten a number of such calls and emails, and I’ve always responded. Some attorneys are, however, not responsive to client calls, let alone calls from those who are not yet clients. Lack of response to communications is the single most common criticism of attorneys and cause for client dissatisfaction, as shown in numerous surveys of legal clients. If one, or at most two, phone calls or emails fail to get you a return call from the attorney, he’s probably not the person you want to rely on to guide you in the immediate aftermath of a self-defense incident. What you want is someone who will respond to help you day or night, weekday, weekend, or holiday. In fact, if the attorney, after meeting with you, won’t give you his cell phone number or a number that will be answered by an answering service 24/7, I’d again say he’s not the attorney you want to rely on for this purpose.
I typically tell prospective clients who contact me to set up a first meeting that I am willing to do this in two ways.
One option is that they can come in to meet with me briefly so we can get to know one another enough for each of us