Many people wonder whether an attorney not returning telephone calls is legal malpractice. Complaints about attorneys being non-responsive are among the most common complaints by clients about lawyers. Many frustrated clients describe calling their lawyer time and time again, and not receiving a return call. This leaves many wondering if the messages ever got passed along to the attorney or if the attorney is even paying attorney to their case.
Under Connecticut’s ethical rules, lawyers have an obligation to communicate reasonably with each of their clients. What constitutes “reasonable communication”, however, depends on the circumstances. Certainly, a client’s telephone call should be returned, either by the lawyer or a knowledgeable staff member, and the client’s questions should be answered. However, failing to return a telephone call, by itself, rarely constitutes legal malpractice.
However, if you feel you have an important question that needs a more immediate response or you have not heard from your lawyer since the day you first met with her, be sure to follow-up, even in writing, to let them know that you have been trying to reach them and have not been able to. Your lawyer should be keeping you up to date on important developments in your case and should be answering the questions you have. Especially when important events are coming up in your case (for example, trial, your deposition or a settlement conference), your lawyer or her staff should be in touch with you.
Although communication is one of the most common complaints about attorneys, legal malpractice requires not only a breach of care by the lawyer but also damages caused by that breach. Simply not returning a telephone call usually does not fall under that category, unless it leads to the client’s interests being compromised in some way. If you believe your lawyer’s failure to communicate with you has compromised your interest, we would be happy to talk with you about those concerns and discuss your options with you. Click here to contact our office.