Woodland Hills personal injury lawyer Barry P. Goldberg meets hundreds of accident victims and prospective clients every year. There seems to be a “unifying theme” from most, if not all, of the clients—they think they hate lawyers and they dread having to actually hire one! The bad news— for the most part—their concerns are legitimate! In an unscientific fashion and in no particular order, I have assembled 3 of the complaints I hear most often.
- The Lawyer Never Personally Met With Me.
For clients that had a previous lawyer, I hear this complaint all the time. Many clients are “signed up” by an investigator, staff member or “in-take specialist.” If the case is relatively straight-forward, the client may never meet his or her lawyer. However, prospective clients are in a very vulnerable position after their lives have been turned upside-down after an accident. They have real questions. Even if a well-meaning staff member answers the question correctly, it does not have the same force and confidence than if it came from the handling lawyer.
In fact, there is no substitute for meeting a client personally because you hear what the client is going through and you gain insight into what would really help that particular client. The initial meeting creates loyalty and, more importantly, sets out the guidelines and expectations for the client. Always meet with the client.
- The Lawyer Failed to take or Return My Phone Call.
This is the number one complaint about all lawyers, not just personal injury lawyers. For most personal injury clients it is a daunting endeavor to call a lawyer or a law firm. My experience is that clients call lawyers when they have important unanswered questions or fears that have built up over a course of time. The very least a lawyer can do is have prompt and meaningful communications with his client.
The first call to the law office can be a clue to the client as to how communications will be handled. Calls should be answered promptly and professionally. The lawyer should try to speak personally with the prospective client, if possible. This cannot always be accomplished because lawyers are very busy professionals with depositions, court appearances and other important clients. Prospective clients will understand this fact. Prospective clients will not understand why the lawyer can never call back.
All telephone calls should be returned that same day and in no event later than 24 hours. This policy has several benefits. Not only does the client feel important, but it alleviates later misunderstandings. In fact, I believe that clients actually call less if the attorney immediately returns the phone call. Always return phone calls.
- The Lawyer Lied!
Many prospective clients come to the table with a negative view of personal injury lawyers. The media and the insurance industry has done a very good job of painting the image that a personal injury lawyer will do or say anything to earn a buck. I can’t believe that I have to even address this issue! Never lie to a client, medical office or insurance representative.
At some point, the client may learn that the lawyer was less than truthful by speaking to the doctor’s office or by reading the file at a later date. It is inexcusable. It will result in a complete breakdown in the attorney client relationship. It will make it impossible to obtain a favorable review and that client will never refer a friend, family member or co-worker because the lawyer is not truthful! Never lie.
Woodland Hills personal injury lawyer Barry P. Goldberg suggests that the lawyer address each of these issues with the law firm staff and this will increase trust and revenue.