10 Things an Attorney Will Not Tell You
1. Your case is worthless. There are two reasons for this. One, if you are willing to pay the attorney to take the case, the attorney may have a financial interest to take your case even if it is a loser. Second, if they tell you that and you decide not to sue, another attorney may be willing to sue the first attorney for malpractice for the advice given especially if the first attorney overlooked or wasn’t told a crucial fact. Instead they will decline your case, advise you that you must bring a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, and suggest that you contact another attorney who could better handle your case. The attorney doesn’t want to alienate you as a potential future client, but they also don’t want to take the case.
2. Grow up. Every dispute is not best handled by the court. Court cases are slow and expensive and just because you file a lawsuit does not mean that you will win. There is at least one loser in every case. If you are offended by something someone did to you, a lawsuit won’t change that and, in most cases, a jury will not award a large sum without some apparent and at least arguably quantifiable injury. Again an attorney doesn’t want to offend you because you may be a potential client in the future or you may refer someone else who is.
3. 33% of nothing is nothing. Some clients are willing to have an attorney spend many hours of time an effort to undertake a meritless case as long as the attorney takes the case on a contingency basis. An attorney can’t work for free and stay in business. Attorneys who work on a contingency basis need three things before they risk working for nothing. They want clear liability, substantial damages and a deep pocket who can pay when they win. If any one is missing, the attorney will want to be paid cash up front and if you can’t afford it, the attorney won’t want to handle the case. It’s not good business. A lawsuit could take years and cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you are not willing to risk that kind of money, neither is the attorney.
4. I don’t believe you. Clients often believe that their attorney must believe them to represent them. If that were true criminal defense attorneys would have to be unbelievably gullible. Believe it or not some people who are arrested are actually guilty. The attorney’s job is to get the best result for the client possible, not to believe the client to the client’s own detriment.
5. I’m doing this to impress you. Some trial attorneys are highly demonstrative in court. They get outraged. They object to everything. They are real fighters. Sometimes that may impress a jury. It often impresses clients. Judges have seen it all before. It generally doesn’t impress them. There may be good and valid reasons to object and be demonstrative in a courtroom, but sometimes it is all for show and not effectiveness. If you feel good about your attorney fighting for you, you may be less concerned with the end result.
6. If the attorney is being paid by the hour there is a financial interest to keep the matter going rather than ending it. If money is no object, the client can afford to pay to have every nook and cranny investigated. A client on a tight budget wants the matter over quickly and inexpensively. Paying an attorney by the hour puts the most moral person in an ethical quandary. To search out every possible area of inquiry is very expensive. Not to search out the necessary issues may be malpractice. How can the attorney zealously represent the client and still be mindful of the cost? Where do you draw the line?
7. The cost of a lawsuit is a powerful settlement tool. When the lawsuit is costing you time and money, you want the case resolved. If you have no stake in the case, you may be willing to wait for a settlement. The party with the most money knows that if they keep the case going, the other party may not be able to hold out for the best settlement. Insurance companies often use this to their advantage.
8. I don’t know everything. Just because I went to law school doesn’t mean that I know everything about every phase of the law. There is just too much to know which is why lawyers tend to deal in just a few areas. While some practice areas go together, others often don’t. Criminal law and personal injury can sometimes go together because they both can involve trial work. Even general practice attorneys don’t do everything. They may know a little about a lot of areas of the law, but there will still be some areas they don’t know much about.
9. I have no idea who would handle a case like yours. Attorneys are often willing and able to refer you to other attorneys who practice in a different area. They do it all the time. Sometimes a person will have a totally off the wall issue for which there is no specialty. Generally it is because the issue is too specific and often not likely to generate enough money for the client or the attorney to be worth pursuing. If the attorney gives you the name of another attorney, that attorney won’t appreciate it because they want nothing to do with the case either. So rather than upset you (and the other attorney), the attorney may just say that you need to ask around. Hopefully that keeps both you and the other attorney from being annoyed.
10. Although I enjoy what I do, I get annoyed with people hitting me up for free legal advice. Doctors and lawyers get hit up all of the time for free medical or legal advice. People who give advice or information for a living want to be paid for their work just like everyone else. Most people who ask those questions think nothing of it, but the doctors and lawyers do.