How Quickly Should I Expect a Response From My Attorney?

How quickly should you expect a response from your attorney?

Hi. I am Lee Rosen. How quickly should you expect a response from your attorney? You’re going through a difficult emotional process. You’re dealing with child custody or child support. You’re dealing with alimony issues, property division issues, maybe domestic violence, alienation of affection. There is a lot going on.

This is the most important issue in your life, and you brain is running full blast thinking about this. You’ve got questions popping into your mind in the morning, at lunch time, in the afternoon, in the evening. You’re waking up in the middle of the night with questions. It is nonstop. There are a lot of concerns as you go through this process and with every one of those issues that you think of with every question with every concern you want to get an answer from your lawyer.

For many people, that means shooting off an e-mail every hour every half-hour sometimes more often than that. Calling the lawyers office leaving voice mails leaving messages. It can be a frenzied frenetic difficult process. You’re normal. That is reasonable. People do that. It is to be expected. The question then is, how quickly can you expect a response? Before we drill down into when that call ought to be returned or when that email ought to be responded to let me walk you through three things that you should be aware of.

First of all, you hire this lawyer because this lawyer is successful. That means the lawyer is busy. You’re not the only client. There are 20 or more other clients who are also sending in lots of voicemails and emails. Be aware of that. Don’t forget that.

Secondly, the lawyer you have hired is someone who is in and out of the office a lot. This is a lawyer who has to go to the courthouse to deal with the judges has to go to meditations with other clients has to go meet with experts take depositions. There is lots of time away from the phone and from the computer where they can respond to your emails and your voice mails. So be cognizant of that.

And then, finally, recognize that lawyers are people like anyone else and they have time away from the office. They are at home with their families in the evenings and on the weekends. They go on vacation. And that may impede their ability to respond to you as quickly as you might like. So having some awareness of the reality of the lawyer’s life, I think, helps you have some sense of what to expect.

So realistically when should you expect your phone to ring? When should you expect to see an email back in your inbox? Well that depends on your relationship with your lawyer and the kind of lawyer that you have hired. Is this a lawyer that has other people on the team? Is this a lawyer that has a staff that can help deal with these inquiries? Or is this a lawyer that really is out there on their own and all by themselves?

You need to find out from your lawyer what their circumstances are, what their situation is and make a deal decide together when you can reasonably expect a response. Tell the lawyer when you are getting ready to hire them that you want to know what you are going to do. “When will you get back to me? What is fair?” See what they say. Make that part of your hiring criteria.

Now if you’ve already got the lawyer and it is too late to make that initial inquiry as part of the hiring process well then you need to sit down with the lawyer now and say look I need to have a feel for, “When I am going to get responses? Because I am sitting by the phone, or I am sitting by the computer and my anxiety is growing. Are you going to respond to me in four hours or eight hours or 24 hours? Or is it going to take you longer than that?” And then, whatever the answer is, if it is acceptable, great.

If it is not, then maybe this isn’t the lawyer for you. Different people have different needs for responsiveness. But the only way to know what is reasonable is and what you can expect is to sit down and have a heart-to-heart, and talk it through with your lawyer.

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