How Can You Get a Lawyer to Return Your Phone Calls?
Things can get a bit crazy at times for lawyers. Each week Lisa and I are either in court, at an arbitration or mediation, at client’s offices, and or in meetings with clients, experts, and witnesses. When potential or existing clients call our office, often times we simply cannot physically take the call.
We do our very best to return calls during breaks and before we leave the office. We’re also set up to communicate with clients in many different ways that work for the client. Text, email, Twitter DM, private Facebook messages and even our 24/7 private client portal all work well. When all said and done, it’s usually not a problem for us to stay in touch with our clients.
But what about the other lawyers out there? Many clients come to us because the first lawyer they hired never returned their phone calls. They said they’d take care of the client but end up dropping the ball.
With the above in mind, if you want to have a lawyer return your call, here’s what we recommend you do.
If you have already hired the lawyer and are her client, leave a message specifically stating that you expect to have your call returned before the end of the day. If you are looking for a case update and don’t really need to talk to the lawyer handling your file, specifically state that you are looking for a case update and would like a return call from a staff member before the end of the day. Also share a number that you can be reached at a specific call time (for example, 3:30 and 5:00 pm.) Always have the person taking your message read back your message and number to avoid any miscommunications.
If you have already done this, and your call hasn’t been returned or worse, the lawyer never returns your call, leave a message first thing in the morning such as, “I have called five times over the past week. If my call is not returned by 4:30 pm today, I will terminate my services with you and hire a new lawyer.” In the alternative, you can send a letter or facsimile asking the lawyer to return your call and sharing the same message. Either way, you’ll get your lawyer’s attention, and the chances are pretty high your call will be returned. (Tip- once this happens lay down the ground rules with the lawyer. Have him or her confirm the ground rules in writing to you. He works for you and not the other way around. Don’t let this happen again).
One way to avoid this from happening in the first place is to do the following. When you hire your lawyer, agree that she, her clerk or office staff member, will call you each Thursday before noon with a case update. Pick the frequency per week or month and time that works for you. This is something that can be put into the case calendar and is easy for everyone to remember and do. Get this agreement added to your retainer agreement and initialed by the handling lawyer.
Remember, it’s easy to fire a lawyer and find a new one. You shouldn’t have ever to put up with poor customer service. In fact, we shared in an earlier post titled “Three Good Ways to Find a Great Lawyer” you may enjoy reading, printing out and saving.
Look, sometimes the best lawyers in town are in court taking care of business and can’t return your call. When this happens, his firm team members should be able to tell you this and answer your questions. If there is an emergency, then he can and should call you within 24 hours either early in the morning before court or later in the evening after court.
What’s important is to make sure to establish the ground rules when you hire a lawyer. Agree on how your incoming telephone calls will be handled. Once this is done, hold your lawyer accountable. Be professional and polite but also never settle for less than exemplary client service. If getting your calls returned becomes a problem, find another lawyer. There’s no reason to every put up with poor service.