A very frustrated Hispanic client came to see me just recently. He signed a contract with a law firm in Atlanta but never met with the actual lawyer. He was represented by this law firm for about one month. He dealt with two different legal assistants and they were giving him conflicting legal advice. First of all, this is a violation of the State Bar of Georgia's Code of Ethics, which states that only a lawyer can give legal advice and practice law.1 Additionally, attorneys are responsible for the actions of their non-lawyer assistants and must keep in mind that they “do not have legal training and are not subject to professional discipline.”2
I find this happening in many cases. Lawyers should not be too busy to talk with their clients whether they are new or established clients. This is crazy, but many lawyers do not like to talk to their clients. This is mind boggling to me.
In the old days, we called ourselves “Attorneys and Counselors at Law.” No one has that on their letterhead anymore.
So, when this person came to us, after an entire month with apparently no legal action taken on his case, we were able to immediately recognize that the Panel of Physicians was defective and set him up with quality spinal orthopedic medical care. The insurance company agreed that there was no Panel of Physicians properly posted at my client's employer and signed off on the document allowing my client to choose the treating physician. All this was done in a matter of two weeks and it was done to my client's complete satisfaction.
We were also able to convince the workers' compensation insurance company to initiate his benefits right away since the treating physician reviewed my client's medical condition and took him totally out of work.
We did have one minor glitch which was that the client's wife wanted to be involved as well and we had been communicating primarily to the client via an interpreter. We immediately corrected that issue by talking to both the husband and wife.
All it takes is a matter of proper communication. Lawyers should always attempt to speak directly with our clients in order to understand their situation both legally and personally. This is the right thing to do. This is what we do in our small, but highly effective, law firm. Try us and see.
1 State Bar of Georgia Bylaws, Art. I §2 (a) 2 Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct, Ch. 1, Rule 5.3, Comment 1 –THOMAS F. BROWN, II