How do I get my legal aid attorney to finish my case?
Legal aid lawyers can be incredibly helpful for people who do not have the resources to deal with larger firms. Unfortunately, the lawyers at legal aid sometimes seem to vanish from a case near the end and never call clients back. This is a serious problem. Here are the steps to take to get your legal aid attorney to finish your case.
Leave a Detailed Message
It is important to understand that most legal aid attorneys have incredibly large caseloads. This means those lawyers could be constantly overwhelmed with work and people seeking help. You should start by calling your legal aid attorney and leaving a detailed message. You need to request more than just a return call. You should detail exactly why you need help right away. Stress the urgency and importance of the situation. Do not leave out any details. This can get the attention of some lawyers who will not return to a case unless something significant happens.
Set Up an Appointment through Someone Else
Legal aid attorneys almost always work in a large and busy office. There is likely a receptionist working in the building taking calls from people. If the message does not get a reply, then set up an appointment with your legal aid attorney through someone else. Call the main number and talk to the receptionist instead of using the direct line to your lawyer. The receptionist should schedule an appointment for you as soon as possible. This can give you a face-to-face meeting where you can talk about finishing the case.
Speak To a Supervisor
If you cannot get an appointment, then you will have to go over the head of your legal aid lawyer. You can do this by requesting to speak to a supervisor at the legal aid office. You can schedule an in-person appointment or make a call. You should tell the supervisor exactly what has happened with your attorney. Describe the last time the lawyer spoke to you or did anything with your case. Talk about what needs to happen now to finish the case. A supervisor might be able to get the attorney to start working on your case again.
Send a Certified Letter
If the supervisor cannot do anything, then you should send the legal aid attorney a letter through certified mail formally requesting a meeting or call. The letter should declare that the attorney has 21 to 30 days to contact you. Most lawyers will respond to the letter. There could be consequences if the attorney does not. If you do not get a response, then your attorney might be acting unethically or could be simply ignoring you. If you do not get any reply by the date you wrote in the certified letter, then you need to make major changes right away.
Find New Representation
If everything else fails and your legal aid attorney does not respond to you, then it is time to find new representation. This means terminating the legal aid lawyer and hiring a new attorney. You might be able to switch attorneys through the legal aid office if you are lucky. You might also want to just find a lawyer with a sliding-scale fee structure or low rates to handle the rest of your case. This will be your only option if the legal aid attorney seems to have abandoned you and your case.