A new case we took on this week raised the question, “What is lawyering that eventually earns the right to a legal fee?”
JUST THE FACTS MA’AM
Man injured at work wanted to hire the Lombardi Law Firm and to discharge the firm currently handling his case which made me wonder why. Was this a client or a lawyer problem?
I personally knew the gentleman from other work we’d recently done. He is a reasonable guy and his wife referred him to us. I knew from representing her this was a good family. So, we agreed to take over the case and I was able to review the other lawyer’s file. The “file” included communication with the client in the form of text messages, but little else.
Because of the Internet, many clients are more aware today than they were 30 years ago. There is a lot more information readily available than there was in the 80’s and 90’s. When the client doubts the lawyer’s credibility it is easily verified through questions and answers.
LITIGATION TOOLS HAVE CHANGED
There are many more forms of communication than there was previously “back-in-the-day”. Email, cell phones, fax and smart phones to name the most widely used. Is all of this good?
Some’s good and some’s bad. Some is used incorrectly and way too often.
Ease of use and availability can create unrealistic expectations for clients and for lawyer. The use of these tools needs to be managed.
LAWYERING REQUIRES THE LAWYER TO DO THE WORK
So what did I see and what does it have to do with earning a fee?
What I saw was way too much texting between lawyer and client with most of it coming from the lawyer. The lawyer’s messages were cryptic not full sentences, lacked punctuation and were mainly questions of no real significance; but tended to demonstrate how little the lawyer knew about his case. The questions posed to the client did nothing to develop confidence with the client and mostly ordered the client to do things like get records then report back to the lawyer.
Now I’m not against getting the client involved in developing evidence, but when that appears to be all the lawyer is doing, ordering the client to do what we lawyers are supposed to be doing, it creates doubts that the lawyer is doing the legal work of lawyering.
TIME TO PUT THE PEDAL TO THE METAL
If you are not being paid weekly benefits, your claim is denied and you have no income, then isn’t it time to file the claim and engage in formal discovery? Yeah, I thought so too. I can tell you this, it’s not time to text the client and ask “How u doing?”, while watching an Iowa football game.
THERE ARE NO PARTICIPATION TROPHIES IN REAL WORK
Ultimately clients ask this question: Is my lawyer lawyering? And if the answer is no, they look for one that will lawyer. Clients don’t mind paying for good legal services. Lawyers shouldn’t be waiting around for money to be put on the table to see how much they get; lawyers should be doing the things lawyers can do to make it happen.
WHAT TO DO NOWIf you need a second opinion go to our site and read what we’ve written about Iowa workers’ compensation cases. If you don’t find the answer, write to Katrina or me. And if you want a phone conference, call Barbara and set one up. Just don’t sit on your hands wondering, because you have but one case to do it right and if you don’t and lose you really lose.