Maybe I’m Just Not That Into You.

Dear Person Who Has Called My Office Seventeen Thousand Times Today:

I gather from the many, many messages that you have left that you are in need of legal services. Due to the excessive number of messages, and the fact that my caller ID shows that you called about every four minutes from 1:27 p.m. through 5:38 p.m., I assume you believe that you have some sort of emergency. Maybe you are concerned that I have somehow missed every one of your 873 calls. Or perhaps you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how the telephone works. Regardless, propriety compels a bit of candor and insight as to our particular situation.

First, if I am not in the office, I will not take your call. If you leave a message – and trust me, dear reader, a SINGLE message is truly all it takes – I will return your call as time and ability allow. If you have an emergency – well, I cannot help you. My office line is not a legal 911 and the particular number you called is unpublished. The truth of the matter is that anyone that calls needing “emergency” legal services from me is truly calling the wrong person. I am not that kind of a lawyer.

Second, I am neither inclined nor required to return every call that is made to my office. I run a small, boutique firm. I don’t advertise. I only take clients on referral and yes, I am very selective about what work I will take.  I do not do any criminal trial work whatsoever (and yes, failure to pay child support is technically criminal, which you should know if you are calling me from jail). I also do not do any domestic/family law work (and yes, failure to pay child support is also family law, which you should know if you are calling me from jail about a child support order).  So if you call and leave a garbled message about needing me to help you get out of jail for not paying child support, I will probably not call you back.

Additionally, if you are already calling me 5,495,692 times a day demanding I help you and I haven’t even met you yet, chances are I am not going to enjoy being your attorney. So most likely, I will talk to you and politely tell you I will not represent you. It’s not me; it’s you. While I do have a few clients who are somewhat high maintenance, I have worked with them for years OR I have other reasons that make the relationship worth it. But, generally speaking, I am not going to even have an intake discussion with someone who has already demonstrated an inability to respect the attorney/client relationship.

Third – and this apparently is not well-known – I am not required by any law or rule of ethics to provide legal services to everyone who demands such from me. For example, if you are upset because your landlord evicted you after he saw you naked and you think that is discrimination, I will most likely decline to work for you (real story). And no, despite what you saw on that t.v. show, I am not “required” to help you, you cannot have me arrested for not representing you, and I am certainly not going to “do you a favor” and just call the landlord and threaten him (also real story).

Fourth, I am not, under ANY circumstances, required to give out legal advice for free when you cold-call me. And just because “some other lawyer did” does not mean that I will. And it certainly does not mean that I have to. And no, swearing at me is not going to convince me. Perhaps you should contact that other lawyer.

The fact that I have a JD does not mean that I am required to dispense legal advice to you; nor does any ethical consideration require me to do so. In fact, as a rule, I NEVER give out legal advice on the phone to someone I have never met because I consider it unethically stupid and dangerous. My legal services are provided for pay and only in accordance with the terms of a properly executed Retention Agreement.

Lastly, I am not going to provide free legal services for you. Don’t even ask. And when I tell you my hourly rates and the required retainer, don’t try to bargain with me. My rates are very reasonable and my retainers are exceedingly fair. If you can’t pay the retainer, then you can’t pay me for my work, so I would be an idiot to do that work – end of story.

The fact that you may have heard that I did such&such for so&so has nothing to do with you. Perhaps this may sound a bit too callous, but I do too much work for free as it is and there are too many people out there who are legitimately in serious need of free or reduced cost legal services for me to waste time dickering over a 10K retainer with someone I know full well has the ability to pay.

We regret that we cannot help you at this time. Thank you for your interest in the SFL Law Firm. We wish you the best in your further endeavours.



Cake of Regret


  1. Dr. Monkey said,

    February 16, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    It wasn’t me. I swear.

  2. Laci the Dog said,

    February 17, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I truly feel for you.

    I’m thankful to have a barrier from the calls, especially when it comes to potential clients. I prefer to get my brief and represent as best I can.

    Also, I do criminal law and these people are pains. They expect get out of jail free cards and have been brainwashed that lawyers can do just that. They don’t understand the legal system and have strange ideas about it anyway.

    I try to get away from the legal stuff on my blog, but sometimes I have to vent.

  3. Idava said,

    February 17, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    “They expect get out of jail free cards and have been brainwashed that lawyers can do just that.”

    HA! Maybe you can make PSA about what lawyers can do/ can’t do, have to do/ don’t have to do. Then have it setup at the jail so that after being booked our new inmates will have a video to occupy, entertain, and educate them!

  4. Angela said,

    February 20, 2010 at 12:10 am

    I can relate to this a little. It’s amazing how many parents think that I should stay after hours and help/babysit their child until they decide to come pick her/him up in the evenings. I do not work for free either, but it is amazing how much guilt teachers get if they dare to leave work at their contracted time. It’s not like I haven’t just spent the last 7.5 hours surrounded by children, doing a very good job, I might add. I guess I’m supposed to hand over the rest of my evening as well and love every second of it. If I say no to these requests, then I’m branded as a teacher who doesn’t care about kids. If I say yes, I’m giving up time with my own children. I wonder how many people out there like working for free? When I get phone calls on the weekend, I wonder what it would be like if I called the phone company worker at home during her family dinner and expected her to take care of my bill. Or if I demanded a clothing store should stay open an extra hour just for me and the employees would just have to stand there and serve me, unpaid, while I tried everything on in the store. I mean they work in a store so shouldn’t they want to please me as their customer?

    I get it. I totally get it.

    You rock.

  5. Iris Tramm said,

    February 23, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I really wish I could put this entire post as a footnote to my 800# on my new biz cards. I tried but it wouldn’t fit. Even in a 7-point font.

  6. southern female lawyer said,

    February 23, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Iris – we need to exchange cards. I went all out went I went solo and have the most twee biz cards imaginable for one not selling handmade jewelry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: