We are all excited that Illinois is open again and while Covid might not be all the way behind us, it does feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If you are in Chicago, you can tell things are getting better. The Loop and public transportation are getting busier. Many restaurants are packed. People want to get out. Part of that means that people want to travel after sitting at home for more than a year.
A lot of attorneys are taking vacation. That is their right like anyone else. I’m going to take a trip in July and have made a couple short ones. What I’ve noticed though is that we are getting a lot of calls that go something like this:
My lawyer is out of town and I have a question I need an answer to that can’t wait.
What these injured Illinois workers are really saying is, “My lawyer is out of town. I have a question I need an answer to that can’t wait and my lawyer didn’t put any process in place to help me while they are gone.”
This is terrible customer service and a sign that you hired the wrong law firm. When an attorney takes vacation, if they are part of a good firm they will have a backup system in place. They’ll tell you who you can talk to, they’ll assign someone to cover their client calls and in an emergency, they will respond to you. For me and most lawyers I know, while we might not be available right away as we normally are, we will text, email and call when appropriate, even if we are on vacation. It doesn’t take a lot from your vacation to make a five minute phone call or shoot an email.
This is what customer service is all about and what you should expect if you are a client. Otherwise, if your attorney is going away for a month does your case just sit on the sidelines for a month? That would be absurd.
In one call, the injured worker had a question about their benefits and was frustrated because her attorney didn’t say he was going on vacation and nobody in the office will talk with her other than to say only that particular lawyer can talk to her and he’ll be back in 10 days. When we looked further, we discovered that her case had been denied for no good reason and in two years her attorney has made no attempt to correct that problem with a trial.
What this shows is that a lawyer who does a bad job when they are on vacation is probably not doing the best job even when they are in the office. If you aren’t thinking about how your leaving for a bit will affect your clients, you aren’t thinking of your clients best interests. Fair or not, that’s the job. If your attorney isn’t looking out for you, it’s time for you to look out for you and find a new law firm.