Every individual’s biggest fear in active litigation is that their attorney will stop representing them, that they cannot reach their attorney or there is no response from attorney’s firm, that the law firm has closed its doors, or you just found a plethora of complaints against your attorney.
Here, I will try to give you pointed advice on what to do if you find yourself in the worst position for a party to a lawsuit to imagine – your lawyer’s offices closed, he or she has stopped responding to your emails and phone calls, your calls don’t go through to their firm, you have found way too many complaints against your lawyer, or even if he was sent to jail. The bottom line – time is of the essence so you can minimize the impact to your case. It reminds me of my time doing internet marketing – a wide array of clients would consult with me after their current service had either disappeared or was not returning their phone calls. A few of the advice I would give there still has value:
Try not to panic
I know that is easier said than done. If you cannot contact your attorney or there is no response from an attorney – don’t start posting things on social media asking or making complaints. If someone from the other side of the law suit sees this, it may give them ideas on how to aggressively litigate your case while you may be dealing with this.
Recall your last conversation with your attorney
Did they recommend you go late on your mortgage? Did they say they may be in court a lot during the week you are trying to contact them? Are you able to reach anyone at that lawyer’s office? Can you physically visit the office and walk in? What was the last status update you received from them or their staff? How about pleadings/motions? If you haven’t received anything and don’t know how to answer these questions, please, get a free consultation from an attorney. If no one will talk with you, I will.
Gather the important documents
I am trying very hard to not scare you, but this part will. Gather everything and bring it to the consultation with your attorney. Insist on an in person consultation. If you think you have enough information – you may not. If you walk in empty handed, bring a note pad. It is very important, going forward, to get as much information about your case. You may find that you were represented very poorly and that what you were told does not match reality. This is sadly the case in many situations. The goal here is to get information and be in a position to react to it.
Be Honest with Your Goals
If your case has been ongoing for years, you may be facing a hostile judiciary, an a bank or opposing party that has simply lost its patience with you and your case. If you know what your goal is, it is time to move towards it – whether through counsel or independently. If you cannot reach your attorney, or if your attorney does not respond to you, you have to have an ability to direct your new attorney as to what your end game is – in some cases it may be litigating for a day in court and in some other situations it may simply be a soft landing. Only you know what your goal is, and it is your attorneys job to counsel you on what is achievable and what is not.
I certainly hope that no one is ever in this position, but if you unfortunately are you still do have options. Contact another attorney within your local community or the Florida Bar Attorney Referral Service as soon as possible.