Staff Notes: The Answer Grape

This is a sensitive topic and it is not intended to offend anyone.

I just took a typical call to the office. It went something like this: I have a restraining order against me, and I filed one against my girlfriend, and she is harassing me – is she in violation of her order?

First, our office doesn’t handle criminal and civil litigation matters like this one. Second, randomly calling every attorney’s office hoping for a “quick answer” to your legal problem is – there are so many words I can put here, here are just a couple: Irresponsible. Arrogant. Silly.

May I make a comparison? You wake up and discover a fungus on your big toe. You call every local doctor’s office asking to speak to the doctor to ask what it is and what you should do about it. You circumvent all protocol (calling your primary physician, speaking to someone about the matter, making an appointment to ensure the doctor has time to examine the issue and make a proper diagnosis, paying for the doctor’s time) and hope for the best. Maybe the fungus will go away. When it doesn’t, you are angry with the one office where a compassionate office worker might have taken two minutes out of their busy day to suggest a cream might help, since you don’t want to make an appointment. And then you bad mouth that office.

You were expecting professional help without the professional manner in obtaining it. A hit or miss diagnosis could be more than just an annoyance, it could be life-threatening. In the same way, hit or miss legal advice could have horrible ramifications and is just not good for you or your local attorney. Attorneys work under certain legal standards and they take their work seriously. You should treat them the same way you treat a physician (they do have a doctorate decree, after all).

The office is certainly here for you when you need it, but it is not the “answer grape” to all matters. Consider that each attorney has a specific specialized area of practice (for example, litigation, estate planning, real estate) and take the time to find a professional who can address your specific needs. Consider that the attorney has time constraints and other clients to assist and take the time to schedule a proper conversation regarding your issue. And consider that there may be a fee for obtaining sound legal advice (the belief that all legal advice – or the FIRST VISIT IS FREE every time - is an issue for another discussion).

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