A woman called me to seek out help for her Dad’s case.  It was at first a pretty straight forward call.  There had been a fall at work and he was injured, actually pretty badly as he’s in a wheel chair.  They hired a lawyer and while things were going well, they said the case started to go south when the paralegal they had been working with left the firm.

I asked why it would matter that the paralegal left the firm as they are replaceable even if they do a great job.  The caller told me that the paralegal had actually been handling the case and would ghost write letters that the attorney signed, answer all of their questions and made the settlement demand.  In other words, it sounds like this lawyer was letting his staff member act as an attorney.  That’s nuts and illegal.

When the assistant left, the attorney knew nothing about the case and couldn’t answer basic questions.  That was why they were calling me looking for a new attorney because they realize that they made a huge mistake in hiring him.

It’s wonderful to have a good support staff behind an attorney and often you’ll find that depending on the firm you get to know a secretary or clerk really well.  You’d talk to them at some law firms when you have to drop off an off work slip or medical records or if the attorney is in court or with a client, but almost every lawyer I know prefers to have all communication with a client directly so they don’t fall behind on important case facts.

Either way, never should a staff member be talking to the other attorney or insurance adjuster about your case and trying to negotiate on your behalf.  Does it make sense for a staff member to call your doctor to ask for copies of your medical bills? Yes.  Does it make sense for a staff member to prepare you for your testimony at trial.  NO!!!!

I don’t know this lawyer, but looked him up and he’s in his 70’s, so my educated guess is that he’s either semi retired or has health issues or something else that doesn’t allow him to handle cases the way they should be.  He probably thinks if he gets caught that it’s no big deal because his career is winding up anyway.  It’s one reason we almost never recommend lawyers that old unless they are surrounded by other experienced but still hungry and aggressive law partners.

Remember, you are hiring a lawyer and if you can’t talk to that attorney or they won’t talk to you or answer your questions, it’s a big problem and a huge red flag.

If you have questions about a case and want to talk to an attorney for free, call us any time at (312) 346-5578.