Communication during the course of the divorce between you and your attorney is critical, both in terms of your sanity and in terms of making sure your game plan for your case is instituted appropriately. Unfortunately, there appears to be a breakdown in communication. Many people have come to me for second opinions where they complain that their attorney is not returning their phone calls; they do not know what is going on in their case; they can't get an appointment with their attorney. There may be legitimate reasons why your attorney may not be in constant communication with you.
Please see my prior blog entitled “Why Your Attorney is Not Returning Your Phone Call”. However, during a divorce, your world is turned upside down, and you often find yourself in emotional turmoil. Issues may arise regarding your spouse removing items from the residence, not complying with visitation agreements, not paying support – that you consider to be urgent and require immediate assistance. In addition, meaningful continued communication is essential to ensure that the game plan for your case is properly instituted so that you can have the best chance of obtaining your goals in your divorce. Nevertheless, you may be facing a situation where your attorney or his office is not responding to your phone calls or your emails. Here is what to do:
What You Can Do When Your Divorce Attorney Is Not Returning Your Calls or Emails:
- Prevention: Get communication procedures in writing from the lawyer before paying their retainer. At the Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, we have a "Welcome Aboard" package for our clients which outlines specifically how telephone calls and communication between our office and our clients are handled. Having such procedures in place eliminates a lot of anxiety;
- Ask to speak to the paralegal assigned to your case. The paralegal may be able to update or provide you answers to non-legal questions that you may have;
- Make an appointment to have a 15-minute phone call with your attorney. Have his paralegal or receptionist check your attorney's calendar and then have them schedule you for a time when your attorney is available for a 15-minute phone call. Now your attorney cannot say that he or she does not have time for you. Be sure to make clear who calls whom, when and at what number. Follow up this telephone call with an email;
- Make an appointment to come in and meet with your attorney in person. Do not take "no" or "maybe" for an answer. If your attorney's office will not schedule an appointment for you, remind them that your attorney has an ethical duty (use the word "ethical" specifically) to keep you informed about your case, and tell them if they do not call you back by the end of the day with an appointment to see you, you will have to see what options are available to you. You may also want to stop by your attorney's office without a scheduled appointment. Try around lunch time, and try to see your attorney then. But use this step only if you have time to wait your attorney out. (Your attorney can only hide in their office for so long.) If you don't get any satisfaction with the above steps, then you need to write a letter.
- Write a letter. If your attorney does not return your phone calls or schedule an appointment with you, and you do not know why he or she is not responding to you, then you must send a letter. In this letter, state that you have called him or her and emailed him or her and they are not available and will not return your call and/or email. In the letter, also state that it is very important that your attorney call you. Keep a copy of the letter. It is important to make a paper trail and keep copies too. An attorney who receives a letter from the client in this matter should immediately pick up the phone or immediately schedule an office conference or telephone conference with the client. If you do not get a response to the letter, then it is time to find a new lawyer to represent you in your divorce or family law matter.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. If your attorney is not responding to your phone calls or emails and if you are expecting to go to trial in your divorce case, then immediately contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312 to schedule a consultation.