I have told many people that you don’t want to hire an attorney that is too old. When you see a lawyer in their 70’s or 80’s that is still practicing law, it’s often because they are broke or more typically because they don’t know what else to do with themselves. When they are practicing because they are bored, we often find that they are half assing it.
A recent caller to my office demonstrated this problem, but boy did he tell me something that seems beyond crazy.
His original complaint to me was that he calls his lawyer and it’s usually five days or more before he gets called back. That alone is reason enough to switch attorneys. But as he went on with the story, I learned that the attorney told him that he could call the insurance company directly if there were any problems such as his check being late or a bill not being paid. Now this is not a disputed case, but that’s literally the worst legal advice I’ve ever heard. You don’t want to talk to the insurance company because anything you say could eventually be used against you. That’s why you have an attorney. They are supposed to communicate on your behalf and take care of any and all issues. If not then why do you have them at all?
But that wasn’t the craziest thing I heard. He told me that he hired this attorney on the recommendation of a lawyer that he used many years ago for a car accident case. When he showed up to the office to sign up, he noticed the office was messy and there were files all over the floor. But then he looked around and saw that there were no computers in the office. Not only did the attorney not use e-mail to communicate, he didn’t have a computer at all. So any time he needed to write a letter or in this case, fill out an application for adjustment of claim, he had to do it on one of the many typewriters in the office.
I can’t even imagine that this still exists in 2014. Every form we use in cases is generated on the computer. I remember when I was first a lawyer and my secretary used a typewriter. We can now fill out these forms 10 times faster and if there’s an error we don’t have to whiteout the problem or start over. Why would anyone not use a computer?
Of course it sounds like this lawyer doesn’t have a secretary either which is a whole other problem in itself.
Things only got worse and crazier on this call. The injured worker was released to return to work by his doctor, but the employer could not accommodate his restrictions. The insurance company should have offered him vocational rehabilitation, but instead they just sent him to a sham job at some homeless shelter. When he asked his lawyer about it, the attorney told him that he’d have to research the issue and call him back in a few days. I’m guessing he has to go to the library and hope that there is a book he can look it up in.
I don’t want to sound like a jerk, but I always write blunt and tell it to people straight. This guy should not be practicing law anymore. No matter who you are, you should always hire the best attorney for your case. There is no way he can argue with a straight face that he is the best choice for anyone.
Bottom line is that it comes down to you have to look out for you. We started our state wide network of attorneys to try and help everyone get a good law firm on their case. But you have to decide if we or someone else are best for you. Red flags are usually accurate.