Friday, October 17, 2008

Why Are Clients Dissatisfied with Their Lawyers?

Although written from an English perspective (just substitute lawyer for solicitor), I recognize this scenario from Marilyn Stowe's Divorce solicitors: why clients seek second opinions.

So what goes wrong? In my opinion there are two important factors, which people should know about before - rather than after - they embark on divorce proceedings.

Firstly, I think a competent solicitor should be able to give a good steer at the very first meeting, having extracted all the relevant information about the client and the factors that a court will take into account. The solicitor should be able to provide details of outcomes in similar fact cases and the likely outcome therefore for the client.

I’m not a fortune teller, but I can advise about what is likely to happen in most cases, usually with the parameters within which I think the court will make its decision. Even in the most complicated cases, with the most complicated of assets, it is possible to advise a client about the likely outcome of a split. I will also provide an estimate of the likely costs of the case.

This is advice that clients need to know - however difficult it is to give.

Clients want to know about likely outcomes and costs, and they want reassurance. What they don’t want is to be fobbed off. If a solicitor cannot provide this advice - even when it is qualified within a range of parameters - I don’t think that he or she should be advising the client in the first place.

Nor am I any better of a fortune teller. I do try to explain the law and how the law interplays with facts. I prepared a client's manual as a general outline, but nothing compares to hearing it first from the lawyer. Under our ethical rules, we cannot promise a particular outcome. We can give a probability of outcomes.

Rhode Island Divorce for those Who Want to Handle it Themselves! from Rhode Island Divorce Tips also deals with this problem of anticipating problems:
What is a "simple" divorce?

Well, different people describe it differently when they call me.

Some say it's a divorce where they have agreed on "everything" with their spouse so it shouldn't cost much.

Others say, it's simple because they don't have children, no real estate, and they've split up their personal belongings.

Ultimately, even an attorney doesn't know if it is a "simple" divorce until it is done because legal issues arise along the way frequently.

As Rhode Island Divorce Lawyers it is our job to anticipate as many legal issues as possible based upon the circumstances presented us. We think on our feet and adapt to legal issues as they arise and as new facts are presented.

Yet even as divorce attorneys we can't anticipate every circumstance and every consequence that arises as a case moves along. This would require us to have some sort of clairvoyance that allows us to see every future event that might happen in every case and that's not just a tall order for a good attorney, it's an unreasonable expectation.
For clients I offer two simple things to do at your meeting: ask questions and then listen to the answers. Asking comes easy enough but too few actually listen to the answers. If you do not understand the question, then say so.

No comments: