Personal Injury Law Firm in New York and Seattle

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What To Do If I Can't Reach My Attorney

Feeling abandoned or left in the dark by your attorney can be a distressing experience, particularly when you've made efforts to reach out to them. The American Bar Association mandates that lawyers must keep their clients promptly informed and adhere to reasonable requests. However, what constitutes "prompt" or "reasonable" communication may vary between you and your attorney.

Why your lawyer is absent

While there may be legitimate reasons for your attorney's lack of communication, such as waiting on court proceedings or handling multiple cases simultaneously, it's essential to discern when the silence becomes concerning. Here's a breakdown of common reasons for attorney unresponsiveness and what steps you can take if you find yourself in this situation.

  1. Absence of Updates: Legal proceedings can be influenced by various factors, including court schedules and paperwork from other parties. If there are no updates on your case, your attorney may be awaiting essential documents or court dates. Understanding these timelines can help manage expectations regarding communication frequency.

  2. Off-the-Clock Availability: Attorneys have personal lives outside of work and may not be available 24/7. While occasional unavailability is understandable, prolonged periods without communication could signal poor communication skills. If weeks pass without hearing from your attorney, it may be a cause for concern.

  3. Disregard for Advice: Some attorneys may avoid client communication if their professional advice isn't being heeded. While clients have the final say in decision-making, persistent disagreement may strain the attorney-client relationship. Seeking a second opinion can provide clarity on conflicting advice.

  4. Office Overload: Busy law offices may inadvertently overlook client messages amidst numerous cases. While being busy is expected, excessive workload could compromise the quality of representation. Persistent difficulty in reaching your attorney may indicate they've taken on more cases than manageable.

  5. Delivery of Bad News: Occasionally, attorneys may hesitate to deliver unfavorable news, fearing client dissatisfaction or negative reviews. While understandable, withholding crucial information undermines trust. Clients deserve transparency, even in challenging circumstances.

What Can You Do?

Communication is pivotal in the attorney-client relationship, and proactive steps can help address communication breakdowns:

  • Attempt Various Channels: If phone or email attempts fail, consider reaching out through alternative channels or contacting the attorney's office directly.
  • Document Efforts: Keep detailed records of communication attempts, including dates and methods used.
  • Seek Assistance: Bar associations can offer guidance, Attornies are required to keep thier information up to date in the bar association website.
  • Request a Certified Letter: If all else fails, send a certified letter to the attorney's office, expressing concerns and seeking clarification on the lack of communication.

Attorney Changing Process

what to do cant contact lawyer

Deciding to change lawyers can be a significant decision, but it's essential to understand the implications and procedures involved. Here's a breakdown of what typically happens when you choose to switch legal representation:

  1. Review of Engagement Agreement: The first step is to review your engagement agreement with your current attorney. This document outlines the terms of your attorney-client relationship, including termination procedures, any fees owed, and other relevant terms.

  2. Identification of New Representation: Before formally notifying your current lawyer, it's advisable to identify a new attorney to take over your case. Research potential candidates and schedule consultations to ensure compatibility and competence in handling your legal matters.

  3. Notification to Current Lawyer: Once you've selected new representation, you'll need to formally notify your current lawyer of your decision to terminate the attorney-client relationship. This notification is typically done in writing, either through a letter or email, adhering to the termination procedures outlined in your engagement agreement.

  4. Transfer of Case File: Upon receiving notification of termination, your current lawyer is obligated to provide you with your case file. This includes all relevant documents, correspondence, and information pertaining to your legal matter. The transfer of the case file facilitates a smooth transition to your new attorney.

  5. Informing the Court: If your case is already pending in court, it's essential to inform the court of the change in representation. This typically involves filing a motion for substitution of counsel, wherein your new attorney formally replaces your previous lawyer as your legal representative in the proceedings.

  6. Continuation of Legal Proceedings: With new representation in place, your case can proceed without interruption. Your new attorney will familiarize themselves with the details of your case, review existing documentation, and develop a strategy moving forward. Effective communication between you and your new lawyer is crucial to ensure alignment on objectives and expectations.

  7. Division of Fees: In personal injury cases, attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis, where they receive a percentage of the settlement or award obtained for the client. If you change lawyers before a settlement is reached, the fees are usually changed and needs to be settled between the lawyers.

  8. Protection of Client Interests: Throughout the transition process, it's essential to prioritize the protection of your legal interests. Effective communication with both your current and new attorneys ensures clarity on the status of your case, any pending deadlines, and strategies for moving forward.


In conclusion, while occasional lapses in communication may be understandable, persistent unresponsiveness warrants proactive measures. By advocating for your rights and seeking clarity on communication expectations, you can navigate legal challenges effectively and ensure your case progresses smoothly. Remember, your attorney is there to serve you, and effective communication is fundamental to a successful attorney-client relationship.

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