Thursday, December 28, 2006

Clients... They'll Be The Death Of Me

So today is a tale of two sets of clients.

I suppose the first set is not really clients of mine. They are clients of a client of mine. Confused? Even though I have my own shingle hanging out there, I still take in contract work from other attorneys. In this case, I was hired by another solo to cover some hearings from him in one particular case. However, somewhere along the way, this attorney's clients were given my contact information and were told to contact me about some aspects of the case. This then lead to the slightly weird situation where the attorney I was contracting for would give me instructions through his clients.

Now this worked fine. Until a decision was made not to contest a tentative ruling. I received a call the day before the hearing from attorney's clients, telling me that I was going to fight the tentative. No problem, thinks I, since I had written the brief for the attorney.

Only one problem. The attorney never intended to fight the tentative (for a tactical reason which makes sense now that I've actually heard it). The attorney's clients, not fully understanding the reasoning for this, called me "passing along instructions" for me to fight the tenative.

I lost the motion. (Normally, I hate losing as much as the Osama Bin Ladin likes sitting down for pulled pork with George Bush. However, I have to say I did a damn good job.)

And I thought that losing the motion hearing was going to be the worst feeling I had until I returned a phone call from the attorney for whom I was doing the contract work. When he told me that he and the clients had decided to not contest the tentative ruling, .... Let's just say my stomach went into free fall.

Essentially the clients had lied to him and myself. Fortunately he believed me when I told him the truth that I had been told he had authorized me to go and contest the hearing. Last thing I need is to get a reputation for trying to shark other people's clients. Or that I was trying to interfere with his handling of a case. Not a good feeling to be in that position.

So the other client is one that is all my own. (Which in retrospect, should be a hint that there is something completely wrong with this person to begin with. If you look back at my postings about other clients, you may notice a theme. The theme is: they're all crazy.)

Anyways, the client was referred to me because they have a good claim about a wrongdoing landlord, but this client is going to start running into a statute of limitations problem if they do not get the complaint filed in the next few days. Sent down a contingency agreement that the client has mailed back to me. I spent a portion of the Christmas weekend drafting the complaint, after making sure that what the client said was close enough to reality to support a case. I consulted with some of the more senior members of the tribe about pitfalls to avoid in drafting the complaint. I have the client review the complaint for accuracy and sign the verification.

And then as I am about to go file the thing this afternoon, the client puts a hold on the whole thing worrying about the a) the agreement which he has signed and b) about complaint I have drafted. Now, this client is getting cold feet and wants the retainer agreement reviewed by a relative who is an attorney. Normally, I would have no problem with this, but the statute of limitations deadline is ticking away.

Clients... they'll be the death of me.

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