We talk to a lot of people who have a defense lawyer and are looking to switch. One of the most common reasons defendants want to change attorneys is a lack of communication. These defendants are frustrated that they hired an attorney but can not get an update, or a callback, or any information regarding their case. Their stress and anxiety are only made worse the more serious the charge. No one who is facing prison time wants to pay a lawyer thousands of dollars only to be ignored.
What’s going on? Why won’t your lawyer call you back?
The first reason is they may not have time. A lot of defense lawyers are solo and work alone. However many cases their law practice has, there is only one lawyer to work on all of them. Being a lawyer is stressful, and if you are the only lawyer you might handle stress by focusing only on the most serious problems that have an immediate deadline. So if your case is not set for trial (I’m writing this during COVID so there aren’t any trials, but still, I’m assuming that trials will hopefully resume someday), then it might not be a priority for your defense lawyer.
Another issue is price. Cheaper lawyers have less staff or no staff. While it’s important to have lawyers available at reasonable costs, if your lawyer doesn’t have an assistant or paralegal assigned to not just answer the phone, but assigned to your case, then it’s harder to get information.
Some lawyers don’t like to talk to clients outside of court. That’s becoming rarer with text messages, emails, zoom, and COVID. But still, there are some lawyers who came up only talking to clients at court settings, and that’s the system they will stick with.
What to do if you can’t get a hold of your lawyer.
When we meet with frustrated defendants who are looking to switch we always encourage them to work with the lawyer they have until they can afford to hire our firm or another attorney. We also tell frustrated defendants to attempt to communicate with all methods they have available and track those attempts. If you’ve been calling start texting and emailing. If that doesn’t work write an actual letter and put that in the mail. In the letter document your attempts to contact the lawyer and express your desire to have a consultation set and get an update on your case. If you really want to get a lawyer’s attention send it certified. We all know certified mail is important, and it can be the trick to getting a callback.
Be nice to the staff, they are under a lot of pressure, and they want you to be happy. A lot of great assistants work for busy lawyers who don’t call their clients back. It’s not their fault the lawyer won’t contact you and yelling at them will make them not want to help you.