Three nights ago, a story was related to me. A woman had gotten a DUI, her first. She started by sharing relating how she had driven drunk many times and had not been caught. She said she knew she had a drinking problem, and was seeking help. She had been going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She was not claiming to be angel. She was, however, claiming to be a human being.
That part of the story was not what bothered me. Alcohol abuse is a sad fact of our society. Drinking and driving is a very unfortunate outcome of alcohol abuse.
What bothered me was her experience with her DUI lawyer. She said she had met with someone one time to relay the facts of her experience and to write a check. She had not heard from him since. Her phonecalls were not returned. Her court date was this week. She had no certainty about any aspect of what was happening to her.
As she related the story, she began to cry. I felt for her. She went on to say she thought there was another trial at some point after that with the MVA. She didn’t know if her lawyer was handling that or not. Again, her uncertainty was palpable.
I understand the need to make money. I understand the reality of the practice of law is that it’s a business. My landlord, suppliers or employees don’t want to hear the check is late. Competition among criminal lawyers
is tough and fees often get squeezed.
But this kind of experience made me ashamed to be associated with the lawyer in question as members of the same bar. This experience is why lawyers are criticized and made fun of. I’m not perfect, but this would never happen.
Our office would never operate this way. Part of the reason our fees are high is because we have adequate time to advocate for, and communicate with, our clients. Successful client representation is time consuming, which is why we are careful about what matters we take. I could not imagine one of our clients ever experiencing what this woman did.