There are a lot of lawyers working in Illinois. It can feel easy to call the first name on google, or the first name in the phone book. But hiring an attorney you can trust and can relate to is extremely important in getting you the best outcome possible. Whenever I get a client who was referred by another attorney, or who wants to fire their attorney, I am reminded of this lesson. Here are a few recent real life examples:
#1- Big law firm doesn’t keep case going after attorney leaves
This has happened multiple times, and it has nearly cost my clients the right to pursue a claim at all. It sounds great at first: a big name out-of-state law firm wants to take your case on. They promise to hire local counsel who will represent your interests in court, while the big-name lawyers do all the behind-the-scenes work. Unfortunately, when the attorney at the out-of-state firm decides to move on with their career, my clients were forgotten about.
In one specific instance, the case nearly suffered a procedural default, which would have barred any recovery whatsoever.
When these clients contacted me, I was able to assess their situation and take immediate action to protect their rights. By quickly filing an entry of appearance we were able to save these claims that the larger law firm almost let die. Hiring a law firm you trust is important because they will watch out for your interests, not just their own. You will be their top priority, even if one attorney leaves.
#2- Law firm won’t pick up the phone when client calls and won’t return client messages
This has happened to a client recently who hired an attorney due to a mutual acquaintance. The client trusted the connection without looking into this attorney’s reputation. Unfortunately, that attorney did not have the best work ethic and refused to follow up with the client when he called. This resulted in months passing without any response or sense of direction on the case. Eventually, the client terminated that lawyer and contacted our office.
Luckily, this client contacted our office in time for us to save his claim and pursue it with the at-fault party’s insurance company. As a result of the delay, there will be additional expenses in the file.
#3- Law firm doesn’t help the client get the result the client wants
This is the most troubling situation. When a client contacts an attorney, they should always explain what the end goal is or what the objective is for the case. If it is a personal injury case, that means determining what an acceptable level of compensation looks like. One client who contacted me had fired her prior attorney because the attorney had an unrealistic view of the case. The attorney did not believe it was important to settle the case when it could have been done, and the client needed the case to be resolved quickly to help make payments on her day to day bills.
Unfortunately, the client ended up having to sell some personal items in order to keep afloat, and when she contacted our firm, we were able to get the case resolved quickly and for a settlement that satisfied her needs. By having a conversation about the client’s goals, I could tell that lengthy litigation was not in the client’s best interest, and we were able to help the client achieve what they really needed.
Having the right attorney means hiring someone who responds quickly, who listens to your needs, and who cares about both you and your case.
In the three years I have been at Tapella & Eberspacher, I have seen what happens when clients are not cared for properly, and how going the extra mile can often make a world of difference to our clients.