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View Full Version : My brother hired a lawyer who is incompetent



Plot Device
03-11-2009, 07:57 PM
Okay, this is a rant, and it's also a way to help me get everything straight in my memory exactly what happened to help me document what I need to document.





I'm in Massachusetts, and my brother is in Ohio. He called me from Ohio last week and said he hired a lawyer in a town about ten miles from where I am, and this lawyer specializes in elder law. He said the lawyer will be calling me any day now and that I am to do whatever she needs me to do because she's going to help us sell our mother's house.

Fine.

So the lawyer called Monday night March 9 at 5:19 PM (so says the Caller ID box) and left a voice mail telling my mother that she wants to meet with my mother "at your home," (so I assume that the lawyer wants to come here to my mother's house) and she wants for the meeting to take place at 10:00 on Friday morning (which I thought wasa little rude of her, but I let it go). The lawyer concluded the voice mail stating she wants my mother to call back and confirm.

So Tuesday (yesterday) at around 9:30 AM while the nurse's aid is still here and still helping my mother take a bath, I called the lawyer's office and spoke to an assistant to confirmthe appointment. The assistant said yes, the meeting is slated for 10:00 Friday morning at the assisted living facility (the facility that my mother will be moving into at the end of March). I was a little confused--why are we meeting there? I thought the voice mail said we would be meeting with her at my mom's house. So I asked the assistant to have the lawyer please call me back and clear up this conflict of information. I waited all day Tuesday -- no call.

So today (Wednesday) I called again at about 9:30. The assistant again said the meeting is slated for the assisted living facility. I said fine, we'll be there.

Then after hanging up it really stated to not make sense: what are we going to do there? Meet in the lobby? What's up with that? So I immediately called back and asked the assistant what the point was of meeting at the assited living facilty if my mother doesn't even live there yet. So I said I am not going to make any more phone calls trying to clarify any of this because this is a waste of my time to chase down these shadows--I demanded that the law office needs to clarify to me 100% what is going on.

The lawyer herself finally called back after less than five minutes, but NOT to apologise--nope! Instead she yelled at me! She tried to lay down the law and to tell me she was "not going to tolerate any personality conflicts" with me.

Well ... I wasn't going to let her bullly me and I wasn't going to apologise. I told her I called her office yesterday in total politeness simply to confirm the Friday meeting, but then during the attempt at confirming the meeting, a conflict of information arose so the assistant said the alwyer would call back to clear it up. And yet I never got the clarification. So I further explained to her that I politely called yet again today and got MORE conflict of information. And I said: "You're being paid by my brother (and not me) to represent my mother (and not me). So I'm techncially not an interested party here. But my mother is blind and relies on me for everything, so it's up to me to keep all these appointments straight for her. I was trying to clear up a confliuct of inflormation and you never called me back to clear it up."

And then she said "I called and left you a voice mail last night."

I was stunned. "No you didn't -- you called Monday night, not last night. And your Monday night call was the start of all the confusion, and you haven't called again since."

She swore she did, insisting she made the phone call last night as she was driving home from Palmer.

I swore to her I was looking right at caller ID, the date was 03/09, the time stamp was 5:19 PM, and that I was gong "to remain unbudging" on the fact that she called Monday night. (And frankly, if it came down to a courtroom judge, he would take my objective telephone's caller ID log over her hazey and subjective recollection in a heartbeat.)

She just escalated the huffyness and even said "I am also going to remain unbudging."

I said "Fine then. I willl start making a log of every phone call, every meeting, every document -- all of it. I had to do it with the hospital, and then the pharmacy, and now I have to do it with you too."

Then she tried to change the subject toward: "It must be very hard to take care of your mother," and I wasn't going to let her be so condescending and weasel her way out of the repsonsibility of this phone call situation. I wanted her to admit she screwed up but she wouldn't do it. It was probably already painful enough for her to admit she screwed up when she misunderstood that my mother was not yet living in the assisted living facility, and she wasn't going to permit herself to admit that she further screwed up in her failure to return my phone call. And frankly I don't care about her damned ego -- this is my mother, goddammit. (Meanwhile, I think it would have been funny as hell is we had all arrived at the assisted living facility together on Friday morning and sat in the lobby to have our meeting because we had no place else to meet.)

And frankly, I am not even remotely annoyed that she made the honest mistake of misunderstanding my brother when he said "she got a room at the assisted living facility" and because of his poor word choice she assumed he meant she was already living there. That's a perfectly understandable mistake and one worth laughing about. But what really kills me is the failure of a lawyer to return a phone call that her assistant said she would return. And then the lawyer either lies about it, or is so incompetant that she honestly believes she did in fact return it. And then calls me back all angry refusing to acknowledge the error!

I let her dishonesty go, I let her hash out with me the details of the documents I need to have ready for the Friday appointment, and then we agreed to meet together at my mom's house on Friday.

Then I called my brother in Ohio and told him all that had just happened.

My brother never gets silent on the phone, he's a total conversation hog. He was silent for the longest time as I told him all this.

And I said to him: "I am going to be good-- I swear to you I am going to be good and I am going to do whatever this lady needs to help sell the house. But you need to know what kind of an error she committed and you also need to know just how badly she lied about it. And all I was trying to do was clarify erroneous information."

My brother continued to be silent and he finally said: "I don't have time to find another lawyer. So I'd appreciate it if you could do whatever you can to work with this one. And let me know if she screws up again."

I assured him I was keeping the log.




::ETA::

The lawyer's return phone call from this morning--when she yelled at me-- took place at 9:51 AM today, March 11.

When we meet on Friday, we will be discussing a durable POA and a health care proxy.


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Bubastes
03-11-2009, 08:04 PM
You are the client and should expect good service. Legal issues are too important to be handled by a lawyer you don't get along with or who acts unprofessionally. I'd recommend finding another lawyer, even if it means taking some extra time. You have to be able to trust your lawyer, and right now it doesn't look like you do.

Wayne K
03-11-2009, 08:13 PM
The "good start" joke isn't really a joke.

Plot Device
03-11-2009, 08:20 PM
The "good start" joke isn't really a joke.


Why did that stupid lawyer need to call me back so huffy? Why couldn't she have called back in quiet inquirey? She made a lot of professional errors in the past 48 hours, and deciding to get huffy with me during her telephone intriduction to me was the biggest.

Plot Device
03-11-2009, 08:22 PM
You are the client and should expect good service. Legal issues are too important to be handled by a lawyer you don't get along with or who acts unprofessionally. I'd recommend finding another lawyer, even if it means taking some extra time. You have to be able to trust your lawyer, and right now it doesn't look like you do.


I'm not "the client" my mother is. And I'm not even footing the bill, my brother is. So she stupidly thought it was okay to be nasty to me. But the truth is I am needed for at least a part of this whole procedure, including the initial meeting.

Bubastes
03-11-2009, 08:23 PM
If she screws up that much on something as simple as phone calls and meetings, I would not trust her with navigating the intricacies of the legal system. That sucks that you're not in a position to do much about it since your mother's the client. Crud.

Devil Ledbetter
03-11-2009, 08:36 PM
What will really be the kicker is when the lawyer bills your brother for that call.

And she will.

She may have called and left a message at a wrong number last night, hence her "certainty." She'll probably bill him for that too. She sounds like a real piece of work.

Plot Device
03-11-2009, 08:39 PM
What will really be the kicker is when the lawyer bills your brother for that call.

And she will.

She may have called and left a message at a wrong number last night, hence her "certainty." She'll probably bill him for that too.

I was thinking the exact same thing.



She sounds like a real piece of work.

I don't mind errors. I do mind lies. And even if she screwed up and misdialed last night .... shees! Error upon error upon error! Not a good omen!

Mel
03-11-2009, 08:43 PM
Why do you need a lawyer to sell your mom's house? We went through a real estate agent to do that with our mother's house. Also, who has Power of Attorney, you or your brother? The one who takes care of the parent should be the one with Power of Attorney. I think it ran around $100 to $150 for that, but prices will vary depending on where you live. Calls for information are free, though. Or should be.

If you have to deal with a lawyer for any reason concerning your mother then you should be the one who chooses and you need to be comfortable and confident towards them. And, personally, I think your brother should have discussed this move with you before he made any decisions.

Devil Ledbetter
03-11-2009, 08:43 PM
I don't mind errors. I do mind lies. And even if she screwed up and misdialed last night .... shees! Error upon error upon error! Not a good omen!I agree. People who can never admit a mistake and resort to lying to cover for it are the worst sort of incompetents. I hope your brother rethinks his decision. She sounds rather arrogant, and if she's this hard to deal with on an issue as minor as scheduling, she's going to be a nightmare if a real problem or disagreement pops up.

brokenfingers
03-11-2009, 09:29 PM
I feel for your brother. I've had my share of incompetent lawyers. And in Ohio too.

Take heart that it's only an incompetent lawyer you have though. The only thing worse than in incompetent lawyer is an incompetent judge. Trust me.

smoothseas
03-11-2009, 09:33 PM
Maybe that lawyer lady was just having a bad day? Then again, maybe she wasnt. Maybe shes inept? Maybe shes just unprofessional.

Her reaction, though, would be enough to have me calling the local Bar Association and have her checked out. Not to report her, mind, but to check out what former clients had to say.

Then, Id proceed from there. For all them Big Dollars they bill, Id want someone whos a tad more agreeable.

Mela
03-11-2009, 09:53 PM
The lawyer herself finally called back after less than five minutes, but NOT to apologise--nope! Instead she yelled at me! She tried to lay down the law and to tell me she was "not going to tolerate any personality conflicts" with me.

Device, is that an exact quote from the lawyer: "I'm not going to tolerate any personality conflicts"?

What an odd, rude, bossy thing to say right out of the gate. Odd because, IMO, it implies that she's already had conflicts with you, that there's some sort of history of conflicts, which, in fact, there's not. It implies, to me, that she already knows a lot about you, your mother and the situation.

I sense, just from this quote, that during a prior conversation between lawyer/brother that lawyer might have surmised things she shouldn't have about you and the situation??

I think calling the wrong phone number and not admitting it, well, it could have played out a number of ways. That doesn't bother me as much as this stance she took with you over the phone.

I'd proceed cautiously.

sassandgroove
03-11-2009, 09:56 PM
My brother continued to be silent and he finally said: "I don't have time to find another lawyer. So I'd appreciate it if you could do whatever you can to work with this one. And let me know if she screws up again." Can you find a lawyer then have the lawyer bill your brother. I mean, you are the one that is there and has to deal with the lawyer.

I think what Mela said is a possiblitiy.

Devil Ledbetter
03-11-2009, 10:46 PM
Device, is that an exact quote from the lawyer: "I'm not going to tolerate any personality conflicts"?
I would take that statement to mean "Don't you dare disagree with me for any reason or I'll immediately drop your case."

Plot Device
03-12-2009, 01:14 AM
I think she screwed up. She admitted on her own to me that she misunderstood my brother's words when he said "My mother just got a placement at the assisted living facility," and so she assumed that it meant that my mom actually lived there. So she left a voice mail on Monday night under that false assumption saying: "I'd like to come and have a meeting with you on Friday at 10:00 at your home." And so when she said "at your home" she was thinking "home" was the assisted living facility.

So I called back the next day to confirm this meeting with her which needed to take place "at [my mother's] home." And the assistant said: "the meeting is slated to take place Friday at 10:00 in the assisted living facility." I politely--politely!--said that wasn't my understanding of what the lawyer said in the voice mail, so could the lawyer herself please call back to clarify what she meant in her voice mail?

No callback!!!

So then I called back the next morning (this morning) and got the same conflict of info, and so my natural response is: What is going on???? And why has the lawyer not called me back??? The assistant didn't have an answer to that and she repeated that the meeting is slated to take place in the assisted living facility. I agreed, I said good-bye, and after a few minutes realized this was ridiculous and caleld back to ask WHY the meeting needed to take place there? The assiatnt had no answer. Finally I said (and this is almost an exact quote): "I refuse to make anymore phone calls about all of this, it's a waste of my time. YOUR office needs to clarify to me 100% what exactly is supposed to be happening with this meeting on Friday." That put the ball into their court. Information, please, and it had better make some sense this time.

So perhaps she dialed a wrong number on Tuesday night (last night). That is not my fault. And she has no business yelling at me on the phone. The smartest thing to do when she called me back this morning would have been to ask in all manner of politeness: "Is there some misunderstanding somewhere?" But she decided she needed to take immediately opt for a stance of intimidation and aggression, trying to scare me/shame me into compliance. I do not scare easilly, you arrogant bitch, and I'm a very good debator. And I am also dangerous as all shit when I start documenting your ass in my notebooks --every phone call, every e-mail, every correspondence all goes in my notebook, so you had better look the fuck out, because I am now taking names. And I'm willing to bet that MY ability to keep this notebook far exceeds YOUR ability to keep track of a phone number and my mother's correct address.

Fuck her. Documentation begins today.





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