Why Can't An Attorney Tell Me What's Going To Happen With My Case On The Phone?

It's an every day occurrence at most law firms.  The phone rings from a potential client with an urgent question.  They may have just found out that there spouse is filing for divorce.  They might have just found out that their spouse is cheating and they want to know is going to happen.  The possibilities are really endless.

But no matter the situation, the questions usually end up going in one direction.  The potential family law client wants an answer to what's going to happen.  They want certainty.  They want clarity.  They probably just want some peace of mind.  And they expect that the attorney (or whoever is answering the phone) knows what is going to happen.

It is easy to understand why somebody would want such clarity.  In times of crisis, people are nervous and scared.  They just want answers.  They just want to know what they don't know.  If they knew, they might be able to swallow the crisis better.

The problem is no attorney or staff member answering the phone can give a client what they want.  Apart from the need to run a conflict check before too much information is shared to ensure that a law firm hasn't talked to the opposing party, and the need for an attorney-client relationship to be established through a written fee agreement, there are many other problems.

As an example, think if you picked up the phone to call your doctor.  Say you have a soar throat and a fever.  You want the doctor or nurse answering the phone to diagnosis the problem.  Imagine a patient asking over the phone, "Doctor, I have a soar throat and a fever.  I don't feel right.  Do you think I have cancer?"

To most out there, it's pretty obvious that no doctor or nurse could answer that question over the phone.  They'd have to bring you into the office.  They'd have to get more information, more details and perhaps ascertain a detailed history regarding your prior health situations and that of close family members.  They may have to run tests, analyze those tests and rule out other possibilities as well.

The reality is that it is the same for an attorney in a family law case.  Without bringing you into the office, getting more details, finding out the entire background and knowing the potential counter-arguments, it would be impossible for an attorney to tell you what exactly is going to happen.  There is just no way they have enough information to do so.

Additionally, results can vary in cases based on what judge is assigned to hear the case or the county or jurisdiction where a case would take place.  If this is a modification action, any attorney would also have to review the pleadings and correspondence from prior cases to fully understand how you got where you are now.

Legal decisions in divorce or family law actions are also not cookie cutter.  With legal standards like what is in the best interests of a child in a custody case, a judge could do lots of different things.  It's the same with legal standards regarding property and debt division where a "just" division is what carries the day or the reasonable needs of the parties as it relates to spousal support.

Obviously, an attorney might be able to garner more new cases on the front-end by giving a potential client the apparent certainty they are looking for on the phone.  It would be very easy for an attorney to say, "Hire me and here is what is going to happen.  All you have to do is give me a check and not worry about it any longer."

Of course, this wouldn't be honest.  No attorney can offer this kind of certainty ever because cases are ultimately in the hands of a family court judge who has lots of discretion.  But, obviously, after a quick phone call, it is particularly true that an attorney cannot guaranty or predict a result.  They also cannot guaranty or predict the total length of the case or what the cost would be when there are so many unknown factors, like whether this is a case that will settle or be tried, go up on appeal or not, etc.

If you are going through a divorce or family law matter, and would like to talk to an attorney in-person about your situation so that the full details involving your situation can be assessed more thoroughly, Stange Law Firm, PC can help.  You can call us at 855-805-0595 or you can contact us online to setup a consultation.