Sticking with a Plan
A lawyer may have every intention of being assertive, aggressive, and in control of the litigation and then, for whatever reason, fail to deliver on that promise. Take the case of Jeanette. She wanted an aggressive, spare-no expense lawyer. She found someone who professed to be unstoppable, who claimed he would represent her as aggressively as anyone possibly could. He mapped out the strategy he planned to follow in her case and showed her the form interrogatories and requests for production of documents he would file together with the complaint for divorce should Jeanette hire him. Jeanette was impressed with the lawyer's enthusiasm and hired him immediately.
Jeanette's attorney filed the initial papers as promised and then started to drift away from her case. The other side had not answered the interrogatories after thirty days, yet her lawyer did nothing. Jeanette wondered what was going on and called her lawyer, who told her he would follow up. He didn't. The next thing Jeanette knew, she was being asked to answer interrogatories from the other side-even though they had never answered hers. She asked her lawyer why this was so, but he simply advised her to get to work answering the questions.
Even though this scenario does not spell disaster, it does portend problems down the road. After a strong start, Jeanette's lawyer started losing steam. This could happen for any number of reasons:
Whatever the reason, Jeanette needs to find it out and get to work correcting the problem. She should not stew in silence or hope the problem will go away on its own. The more she allows her case to be ignored, the more it will be ignored. And the sooner she gets rid of an unsatisfactory lawyer, the sooner she can start salvaging her case.
Fortunately, when Jeanette hired her attorney, she insisted that he give her a written action plan listing all the things he planned to do in an effort to win her case, including an estimate of when each task would be accomplished. Without that written plan, Jeanette would have had no clue what was supposed to happen in her case. Jeanette set up a meeting with her lawyer and brought the action plan with her. She pointed out that many of the items had not been accomplished by the estimated dates and voiced concern that there might be insufficient time left before her trial to get ready. In this way, she was able to get her attorney to focus on her case. He set up a revised action plan with new deadlines, and this time he completed tasks on schedule. Jeanette's action plan enabled her to track the progress of her case. Without the action plan, she might not have realized that her case was not progressing, and she would not have been able to take steps to get it back on track.
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