WHY CAN’T I GET STRAIGHT ANSWERS?
Have you ever asked an Attorney something and thought – Why Cant I Just Get Straight Answers?
When you go to a party, what is usually the second question someone asks you after “What is your name”? Usually, it is “What do you do for a living?”
My response to that question is usually “I am an attorney, but please don’t hold that against me.”
I think we can all agree that the reputation of lawyers today is not what it was 50 years ago.
Why is that?
There are several reasons why lawyers may not have a great reputation. First, the accounts of lawyers failing to remit settlement awards to clients have increased over those years.
Lawyer malpractice is more common than in the past. And the perception that lawyers never give “get straight answers” when asked what appears to the prospective client as a simple question is frustrating.
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS A “SIMPLE” QUESTION?
When dealing with the law, there really can be a simple question, such as, if I drive 55 mph in a 35 mph zone, am I speeding? The answer to that question is “Yes” without a doubt. Ask that and to be sure you will get straight answers.
Similarly, if I strike a person in anger without provocation, have I just “battered” someone within the meaning of the law? Again, the answer is most likely “Yes.”
But oftentimes a question which appears to be simple is really not simple at all. For example, I am often asked by adult children of senior parents “Can I make medical decisions for my mom who has early stage Alzheimer’s?”
My answer is usually “It depends.” I can see the confusion and sometimes the frustration with this answer. The reason the answer is “It depends” is because I don’t begin to have all of the facts.
Whether the adult child can make decisions “depends” upon the extent the parent’s cognitive abilities have deteriorated such that the parent is legally incompetent.
Where mental competency is involved, it also “depends” whether a medical evaluation has determined that the parent meets the legal definition of “incompetence.”
It also “depends” upon whether the parent executed a medical power of attorney naming the child his agent before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s became evident. So you see, the answer depends upon the facts and circumstances specific to the situation.
HOW TO GET STRAIGHT ANSWERS
If you have a legal question and you need to get straight answers, you can buttonhole a lawyer at a party or other public gathering and ask your question.
Chances are, you will get an answer, but most likely not a complete answer – not because the lawyer isn’t competent but because the lawyer is not in the appropriate place to be a lawyer.
You would not expect a dentist or doctor to conduct an examination at a party or during happy hour at a bar.
You should not expect a lawyer to do the same. Moreover, a reputable lawyer will not discuss a prospective client’s business in a public place because to do so will most likely waive the attorney-client privilege (more about that in a later blog post).
If you have a question and need the advice of a lawyer, do not seek it at a party or other public gathering.
Chances are, the advice will not be complete because the lawyer is not in a position to conduct the through interview necessary to fully explore all of the facts necessary for an informed answer.
Ask the lawyer for an appointment. Most lawyers will give you an hour of their time at little or no cost. You will have the peace of mind knowing that your business is not for public consumption, and that you have the lawyer’s full attention while you explain your problem.
Need help? Contact Rath Law Katy on 281 772 9585