I encourage people that when they consider hiring an attorney in Illinois they should ask hard questions of the lawyer about their background, experience, strategy, customer service and anything else that they feel is important. I also encourage you to Judge a lawyer and stereotype them. In other words, if you show up to their office and it’s a mess, that says something about them. If their hair is not combed or they smell, think about how a jury or Judge would react to them. Do they seem too old or too young? What does is say about them if they take three days to return a phone call? Are they looking at their computer instead of you when you meet them?
Stereotypes aren’t always true, but they often are and since this is your life, you have to do what’s best for you. But what I’d like you to be aware of is that every lawyer I know makes these types of judgments about the people that call them. And sometimes a lawyer doesn’t take on a case because of how the client presents themselves.
No lawyer is going to turn down a case where the client was walking on a sidewalk and was hit by a bus that hopped the curb. But for other types of cases like divorce, criminal defense, some personal injury cases, civil litigation, etc., not only do you have to find a lawyer you want to hire, but you also have to find a lawyer that wants to take you on as a client.
So when you call a lawyer’s office, if you are blasting music in the background, it says something about you. If you don’t show up for an appointment, it says something about you. If when you answer the phone when a lawyer calls you back, you do so by saying, “Who the F is ths?” it says something about you. Wearing provocative clothing when you meet the lawyer or yelling at them or being drunk, etc? All of this stuff will cause the lawyer to make a stereotype about who you are and in many cases cause them to decline to take on your case. While some lawyers are desperate, you want a successful attorney and a successful attorney isn’t going to feel that a client with all of these red flags is worth the hassle.
Most of you are probably laughing because these are things you’d never do, but I can tell you that within the last month I’ve seen every example I’ve described. My job is to help people that contact me find the right lawyer for their case. But just as a law firm needs to put their best foot forward, you do too. If so, you may find that you can’t get the lawyer you want and need. And that could lead you down the road to legal disaster.