13
Oct
10

How To Ruin Your Malpractice Insurer’s Day – V

This post is the fourth based upon a series of books written by former Nixon speech writer and lawyer Ben Stein.  His series of books are called “How to Ruin Your _________.”  In his series, the “blank” could be your “Life,” your “Love Life,” or your “Financial Life.  

Ben Stein reasons that “failure is a virtual road map to success in reverse.”  For example, his first nugget of anti-wisdom in his how to ruin your love life book is to assume that your wishes are all that matters in any situation.  The roadmap to success may not be as clear as the one to ruin, but both maps are useful.  

Following Ben Stein’s advice prepares you for a future of failure.       

By following my advice in this post, your future will likely be positive for a legal malpractice action.  

Don’t Call Your Client Back:  As a lawyer, you are quite busy. You can’t be expected to call every client back just because he left a message, stopped by the office twice, and mailed you a letter with a lot of questions about the representation. The client knows you are busy and that other clients are important too.  Plus, you have tickets to the game tonight. You will eventually tell the client that the court dismissed the case. It just isn’t important right now.

* * * *

Interviews of legal malpractice claimants and clients who filed bar complaints show that the greatest common complaint is that the attorney would not communicate with the client. Communication serves several important roles. The failure to communicate with a client causes the client to become angry and suspicious of the attorney. From a practical standpoint, communication also helps define the scope of representation and achieve the other malpractice avoidance goals mentioned in earlier posts in this series.

Most importantly, communication creates a relationship with the client. Even when things go wrong, prompt, regular communication throughout the representation can be the greatest tool against a legal malpractice claim. Proper communication will accomplish the following: set reasonable expectations for the representation, keep the client informed about the status, avoid surprises over the bills, and adjust expectations as necessary. At the very least, return all phone calls and answer all correspondence.

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