What to do when your lawyer isn’t listening.


Q: I hired a lawyer helped me with my divorce. He came highly recommended. Before we reached the agreement, she was really attentive. Now she is ignoring me. I am buying my wife out of the house and really need the Written Agreement in order to get financing. What should I do?

A: Good lawyers tend to be busy people. They have many clients and are in demand. Unfortunately, this often translates into some clients simply falling through the cracks.

Regardless of why you are not being listened to, there are some steps that you can take to be heard.

1. Correspond in writing – ideally a formal letter. E-mails or phone calls do not command the same attention as a traditional letter or fax. Make sure that the letter is addressed to your lawyer and the re: line ifentifies your issue.

2. State that Time is of the Essence. This is a legal term that notifies the lawyer that the issue is urgent. When a lawyer hears “Time is of the Essance” they pay attention. In this case “re: Time is of the Essence beacause of mortgage funding” would be a good example.

3. Provide them with a reasonable timeframe within which to respond – in most cases 3-5 days.

4. Do not bombard the lawyer with e-mails and telephone calls. Lawyers are very good at dodging both.

5. If they do not respond to you, request a meeting in writing.

6. Most importantly, be persistent and keep a record of your efforts.

Lawyers are required to respond to clients within a reasonable time. In most cases, clients are able to get through to their lawyers. On the rare occasion that there is a problem, the client should seek the advice of another lawyer, or contact the Law Society for help.

Michael Butterfield
Collaborative Family Lawyer
Certified Mediator and Arbitrator