Call Anytime: The Importance of Attorney Availability
Have you ever called a friend or relative with important news and deflated at the sound of the BEEP? Realized your sent box was bigger than your inbox? When people don’t get back to you, you can feel disrespected or confused. Now, if you get that BEEP when trying to contact your attorney, it’s not only disheartening, it’s downright dangerous. The availability of your lawyer to take your calls, respond to emails, and set appointments can make or break your case.
Competent attorneys should already know the importance of timely responses. Efficient communication is even laid out in the American Bar Association Rules of Professional Conduct. Betty Adams, writing for GPSOLO magazine, says that a “failure to communicate with clients in a timely and effective manner violates [these rules]” and is “frequently cited as the cause of attorney disciplinary matters.”
So, why is communication between a client and counsel so important? It can affect whether or not you show up for court on time, educating your lawyer about favorable facts and mitigating evidence, your chances of gaining sympathy with the prosecutor and jury, and receiving the opportunity to explain your story to a judge. To put it bluntly, an attorney who doesn’t respond in a timely manner drastically decreases your chance of receiving a “not guilty” verdict. In contrast, the lawyer willing to work with you on weekends or after business hours will prioritize deadlines and ensure you know every detail of your case.
A good lawyer should from day one give you reasonable expectations regarding their availability. If they don’t provide their personal phone number, you need to know their office hours, which staff members you’ll be speaking with, and the reasonable time you should expect to hear back. Don’t let your lawyer shuffle you off to a less experienced associate. The more specific your attorney is about their availability, the less irked you’ll be if they don’t pick up the phone.
However, once you leave a message, you should receive a return call as soon as possible, preferably in a few hours. Especially for urgent messages, a lack of a timely response can mean stalling your case, losing key evidence and decreasing your confidence in your attorney’s ability to help. Working with a lawyer who not only understands the importance of prompt responses and prioritizes returning calls, is absolutely necessary to get you the best result.
There are some lawyers who give out their personal phone number with the expectation they could be called during all hours, day or night. Clearly, they prioritize their clients. You’ll rarely hear that discouraging BEEP and never have to wonder if the receptionist is really going to relay your message. Sure, their lives are busy too, but they will make every effort to provide the attention you need as soon as possible. These attorneys are usually more equipped to strategize, manage deadlines, and turnaround cases. Not all lawyers can provide this level of attention, but when your freedom—and life—is on the line, nothing can give you better relief than responsive counsel.
If you need a criminal defense lawyer who is comfortable being on-call 24/7/365, don’t hesitate to contact my office. I am available after-hours, on weekends, and even holidays. If you need this type of reliability when navigating your case, and you should, call me today: 714-381-1366.