Within the numerous articles of this blog, I have tried to write about real issues and provide real insight into the kinds of cases and concerns that real people encounter in the real world. In a manner of speaking, I try to “keep it real.” Humorous word use aside, it has always been my goal to write about those things that are relevant in readers’ lives. On top of that, having just finished a 7-part, very detailed series about the Steps in a Detroit-Area DUI case, I was looking for a subject that would allow me to write a shorter article.
Inspiration hit when I was speaking with Ann, my Senior Assistant. As we were going over the morning’s emails and phone calls, she rather causally observed that we had received our usual load of emails that express the writer’s interest in hiring my Representation, yet conclude with the sender asking me to call them, as well as the usual number of inquiries from people who have unresolved issues left behind from a case for which I was NOT their Lawyer. Most of the time, the person indicates that their former Lawyer didn’t do or explain something well enough, and other times, the person admits having tried to “play Lawyer” by representing themselves.
This article will address why I NEVER get involved with another Lawyer’s work, especially after the fact, and why I almost NEVER take on any post-Sentencing or Appellate-type work. I will also explain why I think almost anyone who takes the time to email me, then asks for me to call them, is a “time waster.”
First, the “time wasters.” While there are numerous situations in which a person might drop me an email inquiring about something or other, particularly in the context of Driver’s License Restoration cases, anyone serious about moving forward in a case will note my business hours and call my Office. It is simply far more convenient for a person to call my Office during regular business hours than it is for my Office to try and manage a call to someone during the hours they provide. Thus, instead of a person providing a phone number and indicating that are available between certain hours, it just makes more sense for them to call my Office during those times.
Add to this that, over the years, we have found that those same emails very often result in our leaving a message anyway. Look, if you’re serious about wanting to talk to us, then call. Why ask us to call you? I don’t email my Dentist’s Office after hours and ask them to call me to set up and appointment. I just call and make one.
Lately, when people leave such emails, we’ll simply respond by telling them that we’re open M-F, from 8:30 to 5, and can be reached at 586-228-6523.
There seems to be a lack of seriousness or urgency to certain questions, as well. People sometimes email about some DUI or other Criminal matter, then ask, “Do I need a Lawyer?” I’m only really interested in those who already know they do. Anyone asking such a question should do some more research. This is somewhat irritating to me because I have THE MOST INFORMATIVE blog anywhere. Anyone who can read can log onto my blog and learn as much about any kind of case that I handle as they could ever need or want to know. And for what it’ worth, anyone asking, “do I need a Lawyer?” almost certainly does. It is obvious that they do not know enough about their legal situation to know the answer…
In that sense, when an electrical socket needs replacing in my house, I know I do not need an electrician. However, if I see flames shooting out of that socket, and I wonder, “do I need an electrician?” then it is clear that I do not know enough to answer “no, I know how to fix that.”
Another type of inquiry I often receive is from those who, rather unfortunately, decided to do their research a little too late. These people will call or email my Office and express concern or dislike or doubt or frustration with the Lawyer they have for a pending case, or had for one that is now finished.
Very often, these people are all worked up, and feel lost and in need of help. Things are not, or did not go the way they were led to believe. For years, my heart ruled my head, and my desire to help and give comfort won out. Accordingly, I got involved in these messes. Yet all that was ever in such work for me was nothing but aggravation. There is an old Lawyer saying to the effect that, “90% of your trouble comes from 10% of your cases.” Experience has taught me how true that is.
And to be honest, it almost always really is somebody else’s fault. The end result is that I am far better off NOT getting involved in something some other Lawyer did, or, in the view of my potential new Client, screwed up. All the money in the world doesn’t make up for this, either. Not that all the money in the world is ever on the table, anyway. Not surprisingly, rather frequently, those who contact me in such circumstances have very little money left over after having dropped most of it on the Lawyer with whom they are now dissatisfied. Worse yet, all too often I find out the prior Lawyer charged more than I would have. On top of looking for someone to get involved in a nightmare situation, they want a deal, as well…
Thus, I don’t clean up the mess made by another Lawyer, or someone who went in without a Lawyer and made things worse by representing themselves. The ONLY exception to that is when a person has tried and lost a prior Driver’s License Restoration Appeal. In those situations, fixing the errors caused by some do-it-yourselfer or a Lawyer who said he or she “does” License Restoration cases is just part of the job description.
In a DUI or Criminal case, if I am not hired as someone’s Lawyer right out of the gate, then too much of my time thereafter will be spent fixing things that I would have done differently. Sure, I will step in, early on, when some Court-appointed Lawyer hasn’t yet had a chance to have any real impact on a case, but once the case gets rolling, more often than not, I will decline getting involved because too much has already been done and it wasn’t done the way I would have done it. It’s not just that I have to “fix” things; it’s that some things cannot be fixed. For me, it’s just a nightmare. It may sound cold, but you should have called me in the first place.
This is even truer in cases where I am contacted AFTER a person has been Sentenced. My Office often receive inquiries from someone who was promised or told something by their prior Lawyer, only to find out that it didn’t quite work out that way. A common example is when someone is promised that a Criminal charge or conviction won’t show up on his or her Record. Later, it does. Then I get called because the person lacks enough confidence in their former Lawyer to want to talk to them about it. I understand that, but…
From my point of view, this only represents a ton of work, for not enough money, and more aggravation than both of those things put together. If I had been the Lawyer (and of course, if that were the case, the person wouldn’t be having these problems in the first place), then I could figure out who screwed up along the way and fix it. But the learning curve and the stress and everything that goes with coming in as a clean-up man for an already frustrated and understandably unhappy person simply screams “RUN!” to me.
One of the benefits of doing good work in the first place is that it results in more work. I am busy. I am fortunate enough to get a lot of referrals. I have enough work. I do not have to take those cases that present themselves as more aggravation and frustration than they’re worth. Economically speaking, I simply do not need to get involved in anything that has the potential to be such a nightmare. And from my perspective, almost all issues that arise after a person, who was represented by a Lawyer other than me, and who has already been Sentenced are just that; a nightmare. If the case was mine, then I will, of course, help my Client out, although, as I noted above, I don’t have such problems with my cases, unless someone else screws up along the way. If that happens, my Client can count on me to get it straightened out.
And that should be the case for every Lawyer out there. Sometimes, though, it seems rather obvious to a person that it was their Lawyer who shoulders some or all of the responsibility for whatever has thereafter arisen as a problem. While I understand how that would make a person want to look elsewhere for help, I hope the reader understands why that makes me NOT want to get involved.
If you’re looking for a Lawyer and have questions, call my Office. If you wonder if you even need a Lawyer, then, as I noted earlier, chances are, you most likely do. Take the time to do some research on this blog.
If you already have hired a Lawyer, and your case has progressed to any point beyond the very beginning, please understand that I do not want to offer a second opinion (which really means second-guessing, anyway) nor do I want to take the case over. Chances are, whoever was hired in the first place has already established his or her strategy in a way that makes coming in thereafter little more than cleanup. I like to do things the right way, and the ONLY way I can be sure that’s the case is by Representing someone right from the very beginning, or at least very close to it.
Finally, if you have concluded a case, whether with another Lawyer, or on your own, and now things aren’t the way you thought they’d be, please also understand that I do not do any post-Sentencing work, except only in those cases in which I was the Lawyer in the first place.
I know this may sound harsh, but almost all of this could have been avoided if a person would have taken their time and made a proper inquiry for a Lawyer before they got too far along in the Court process of a Criminal case. Do your homework. Hire the right Lawyer. I know I’m not the Lawyer for everyone, but there are some practical considerations you should bear in mind to make sure that, at the very least, you don’t get stuck with the wrong Lawyer. Remember, lots of problems and confusion result from a person representing themselves. Sorry to be so blunt, but that’s just plain stupid. Take a Public Defender if you can’t hire your own Attorney.
There is a lyric I sometimes quote that is relevant here:
Good work is the key to good fortune Winners take that praise Losers seldom take that blame.
As with almost anything else involving Lawyers, the best thing anyone can do is to be a good consumer. Approach the decision to find and hire a Lawyer with at least as much effort and seriousness as you would if you were going to buy a new computer or TV set. Do your research. Pick up the phone and call. Who answers your call? Are they friendly and helpful?
And remember, price is important, but that cuts both ways. The low-ball “deal” is never a deal, but getting soaked doesn’t necessarily equate with top-notch quality either. As with so many things in life, the best choice is often in the middle.