If you find that your lawyer is not responding to emails or phone calls, there are several steps you can take to resolve the situation. Here are some practical tips for what to do if your lawyer is not responding to emails:
Tip 1: Check Your Lawyer’s Contact Information
Double-check the contact information you have for your lawyer, including their email address, phone number, and office address. If you’ve been using an outdated email address or phone number, this may be why your lawyer hasn’t been responding.
Tip 2: Send a Follow-Up Email
If you haven’t heard back from your lawyer after a reasonable amount of time (3 days), send a follow-up email. In your email, request an update on your case or legal matter and ask for a timeline for when you can expect to hear back.
Tip 3: Try Sending a Text
Some attorneys are terrible at responding to emails and phone calls, especially if the attorney is out of the office a lot.
If you have your attorney’s cell number, they will often reply to a quick text.
Tip 4: Call Your Lawyer’s Office
Call their office if you still haven’t heard back from your lawyer after sending a follow-up email. When you call, ask to speak with your lawyer or their assistant and request an update on your case.
You should ask for the attorney’s paralegal or assistant if you cannot get through to the attorney. Most attorney staff are great at answering clients’ questions if the matter involves something other than offering legal advice.
Make sure you let the assistant know your attorney is not responding to your emails or calls. Most assistants are great at helping attorneys prioritize their time and reminding them to return phone calls and emails.
Tip 5: Set a Time Limit for a Return Email or Call
Informing the attorney that you require the information by a specific date and explaining why this time is needed may result in a quicker response.
Attorneys are very good at prioritizing their day. They are not all procrastinators; they have higher priority items requiring their attention. So give them a reason to prioritize your case by requesting a call at a specific time.
Tip 6: Set up an Appointment
If your lawyer is consistently not responding to your emails, you should set up an in-person, phone conference, or Zoom appointment to discuss your legal matter with your lawyer.
Lawyers’ lives are controlled by their calendars. If you schedule an appointment, this should guarantee an opportunity to speak with your lawyer about your case.
Appointments are an effective way to communicate and ensure that your concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
An in-person meeting can provide a face-to-face discussion with your lawyer, which can be helpful if your legal matter is complex or you need more personalized attention.
However, if an in-person meeting is not feasible, a phone conference or Zoom appointment can be a good alternative.
Tip 7: Consider Changing Lawyers
If you’ve tried all the above steps and are still waiting to hear back from your lawyer, consider changing lawyers. While this can be a difficult decision, working with a responsive and communicative lawyer is essential.
Lawyers Have an Ethical Duty to Communicate With Their Clients
Lawyers have an ethical duty to promptly respond to their client’s inquiries and keep them reasonably informed about the status of their legal matters.
The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which serve as the basis for legal ethics rules in many states, states that a lawyer must promptly respond to reasonable requests for information from a client.
Failure to respond to client inquiries can result in disciplinary action by the state bar association, including suspension or disbarment of the lawyer’s license to practice law.
Should You File an Ethics Complaint Against Your Attorney?
If your lawyer ignores your emails and phone calls, you may want to consider filing a complaint with the state bar association.
Filing a bar complaint against an attorney can significantly affect the attorney-client relationship. The attorney-client relationship is built on trust and communication, and a bar complaint can damage that trust and lead to a breakdown in communication.
If a bar complaint is filed against an attorney, the attorney must respond to the complaint and may be required to provide documentation or evidence to support their defense. The state bar association will review the complaint and may investigate the attorney’s conduct.
If the bar association finds that the attorney has violated ethics rules, they may take disciplinary action against the attorney, such as imposing sanctions, suspension, or revocation of their license to practice law.
The filing of a bar complaint can also strain the attorney-client relationship. Most attorneys will withdraw from representing clients when a bar complaint is filed against them.
Is it Normal for an Attorney to Ignore Emails and Phone Calls?
It is not normal or professional for an attorney to ignore emails and phone calls. Attorneys have an ethical duty to communicate with their clients and promptly respond to their inquiries.
How Long Should it Take for an Attorney to Respond to an Email?
There is no set timeframe for how long it should take for an attorney to respond to an email. But, remember, attorneys are ethically obligated to communicate with their clients and promptly respond to their inquiries.
What constitutes a “prompt” response will depend on the circumstances of the communication and the urgency of the matter.
In general, I tell my clients they should expect to receive a response from their attorney within a few days. However, the attorney should respond more quickly if the matter is urgent or time-sensitive.
If an attorney consistently fails to respond to a client’s emails or other communications, it may be a sign that the attorney is not fulfilling their ethical obligations.
When your lawyer is not responding to emails or phone calls, it can be frustrating and stressful. However, by taking proactive steps and following up regularly, you can help ensure that your legal matter is addressed promptly and effectively.
Remember, communication is critical when working with a lawyer, so don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for your needs as a client. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to consider changing lawyers to find someone more responsive and communicative.