While in law school, I completed an internship in the Ethics Department of the Columbus Bar Association. That department was created to handle complaints of attorney misconduct. The complaints that we received fell into one of two categories: 1) complaints about an attorney’s lack of communication with his clients 2) all other complaints. By far, the complaint we saw most often resulted from an attorney’s lack of communication. Now that I am a practicing attorney, I can tell you that there are several reasons why an attorney does not communicate as often as the client may like.
1. Attorney fees are high and most attorneys bill hourly. Some attorneys do not communicate as often as a client may like because the attorney believes she is doing the client a favor by trying to keep the client’s bill as low as possible. If you would like to communicate with your attorney more, you should tell her; just be aware that your monthly bill may be a little higher than it was in the past.
2. Sometimes there isn’t anything happening in the case and there is nothing to report. If you prefer that your attorney communicate with you at some regular interval regardless of progress, you should tell your attorney how often you would like to hear from him. The other option is to just check in with your attorney at those regular intervals to see if anything new has come up in your case.
3. Your retainer may be exhausted. If you remedy this problem by replenishing your retainer, you should have very little difficulty getting in contact with your attorney thereafter. You must be careful following this rule, but in general, the more matters an attorney has to take to make a living, the less time the attorney will have to give you personal attention. If you feel that your matter will require a lot of the attorney’s attention, you should find an attorney that has the time, and more importantly, you should make sure that attorney always has funds in his account to speak to you when you need him.
There are many plausible reasons why an attorney does not communicate as often as clients like; however, the lack of communication can rise to an unacceptable level. If you have called your attorney and left 3 or more messages over a week period and you have not received a telephone call (or any communication) back, (with the exception of a vacation that the attorney gave advanced notice of) it is my opinion that your attorney’s lack of communication has risen to a level that is unacceptable and I would advise you to begin a search for a new attorney.