“I don’t feel like my lawyer is answering my questions. What can I do to change this?”
As with most questions of this nature, the answer is really quite simple: tell your lawyer. Explain to him or her that you are confused and overwhelmed by the divorce process — which is not an unusual circumstance. Explain that you need direct answers to the questions, and make yourself available to be reached by your lawyer at virtually any time.
Often, divorce lawyers are in court either all morning or all day, or are otherwise engaged, and they simply do not have time to interrupt what they are doing. Say to your lawyer or to his or her secretary or answering service, “I know how busy you are, but I need 10 minutes of your time. I need to go over some things. What is the best time for you to reach me?”
Then let the lawyer know your availability. Make sure you give telephone numbers, as lawyers often return calls from home, from the Court House and from other locales, and they may not have your number at their fingertips. Even if you are sure the lawyer has your number, either in your file or in their head, make sure to leave your telephone number. The easier you make it for your lawyer to respond, the better chance you have of getting a response.
Remember that the lawyer is on your side and truly wants to help you. A statement such as, “I really don’t understand,” is far better than, “you aren’t answering my questions.” Don’t go on the offensive with your lawyer as lawyers are, contrary to popular opinion, human beings just like you. As all our mothers told us, “You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” In most cases, this can be done over the phone without the need for a face-to-face meeting.
It is just as important for your lawyer to know you have questions as for you to obtain answers. I often tell clients that there are really only two types of questions: 1. the important question which is something either you need to have answered or I need to know is an issue; and 2. the silly question which you need to know not to worry about. Either way, the lawyer has no idea you have a question if you do not voice it.
If you still have trouble getting answers, remind your lawyer that you are the boss while he or she is the employee. If after all of this you are not satisfied with the answers you are getting, you may wish to seek other counsel.
Obviously, the availability of your lawyer to respond to your questions is a point to discuss with counsel in the initial interview before any particular individual becomes your lawyer in the first place.