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What Does It Mean When My Lawyer Is Unresponsive?

There are many reasons a lawyer may be unresponsive including the following:

They are too busy.
The lawyer has stopped representing your case.
They don’t know how to properly communicate.
Your case is complicated.
They are away from their office.
And more!

Top 9 Reasons Lawyers Aren’t Responding

The lawyer-client relationship is based on trust and open, honest communication. A good lawyer will communicate quickly and a client can tell a lot about a few aspects of a case by how quickly their lawyer responds to questions, requests for information, and telephone calls.

For a client who is going through the stress and worry of a legal problem or criminal charge, a responsive lawyer can take a lot of that concern away because they know a lot about what is happening with their case.

So, what does it mean when a lawyer is unresponsive? There are many reasons a lawyer may be unresponsive including the following:

  • They are too busy.
  • The lawyer has stopped representing your case.
  • They don’t know how to properly communicate.
  • Your case is complicated.
  • They are away from their office.
  • And more!

A lawyer who does not respond as a client would expect will cause unnecessary stress and anxiety – a good lawyer will make efforts to communicate a client’s concerns, act quickly and do the best job possible in a timely manner.

Reasons Your Lawyer is Unresponsive

There are many reasons why a lawyer wouldn’t respond to client inquiries or demands. Below are the top 9 most common causes of inefficiency and indifference:

1. They Are Too Busy

Lawyers work in a highly demanding field and are often flooded with requests from clients, colleagues, employees, opposing counsel, or even judges. They may also be working on cases that have deadlines that must be met and require their attention at all times. When a lawyer is overbooked and overwhelmed by work, they may not be able to reply to client communication promptly.

2. They Have Stopped Representing You

This can be one of the most devastating and disheartening situations for any client to face. In some cases, your lawyer may stop working on your case because they are no longer able to legally represent you due to malpractice or an ethical violation. In other situations, they may be fired by the client or withdrawn from the case on their own accord.

3. They Don’t Know How to Handle Communication With You

Some lawyers are not very adept at dealing with clients who want answers quickly. If your lawyer is slow in responding to text messages, emails, or even phone calls, it can make it difficult for you to get a response from them.

4. You Are Dealing With a New Lawyer

If you recently hired your attorney, it may take some time for them to get into the rhythm of things to be able to adequately communicate with you.

5. Your Case is Complicated

Sometimes, cases that are not straightforward or have many moving parts can make a lawyer’s job a lot more difficult. If you are dealing with a particularly complicated case, your lawyer may be spending an inordinate amount of time trying to sort through the details and get to the heart of it.

6. They Have Too Many Clients

This is one of the primary causes for the lack of communication on behalf of most lawyers who are not careful about how many clients they take on at one time. If your lawyer is overloaded with too much work, it could become very difficult to meet the demands of each client.

7. They Are Away From Their Office

Lawyers who must travel a great deal for business may find that communication becomes more difficult as you are unable to contact them. This can be a particularly common problem in family law cases.

8. They Are Just Not That Great

There may be some lawyers out there who are just unable to meet the demands of their clients and remain calm and collected. This is especially true when things become tense or confusing, which can lead to an inability to properly communicate with you.

9. They Don’t Care

In some situations, you may be dealing with a lawyer who simply does not have your best interests at heart. This is unfortunate but it can come up in situations where the attorney has violated legal ethics or rules of professional conduct and there are consequences for their actions.

Is a Communication Breakdown a Breach of Contract?

Yes, a communication breakdown is a breach of contract if your lawyer did not live up to your expectations.

It does not matter whether or not you have a written agreement because a verbal contract can also be legally binding in some cases.

What matters more than the type of contract that was made between yourself and your lawyer is the fact that a verbal or a written agreement exists in the first place.

However, if a communication breakdown has occurred you should speak with an attorney and discuss your legal rights in more detail. Sometimes a lawyer will not do a good job for a client after a verbal agreement is made that they will, this acts as a breach and no contract is needed to make it a legal matter.

For example, a lawyer may verbally agree to represent you in court on a certain date and time only to fail to show up due to miscommunication or poor planning, resulting in a delay that a client does not want to see.

Defining a True Breach of Contract

If a communication breakdown is a breach of contract, a lawyer may be liable for damages caused by the delay. For example, a case may be dismissed because a party had no legal representation when they needed it most and a judgment in your favor could result from such a breach.

For a breach of contract to occur a communication breakdown must be proven.

Check a local bar association – bar associations are a good resource for both a client and a lawyer to check when a communication breakdown is suspected. A situation where a lawyer is not communicating with a client can be a highly frustrating matter that a person may want to avoid if they are not sure of how a legal matter should proceed.

A lawyer may be a valuable resource but a less-than-professional one can make communication a difficult matter and a small delay a potentially large problem for a client. A breach of contract related to a communication breakdown should be reviewed by a legal professional capable of presenting a case in court, this way an individual could ensure that their claim.

How to Deal With Your Lawyer Who is Not Communicating

So, what should you do when your lawyer is not communicating with you? Here are a few tips.

Write Them an Email

Sometimes, lawyers take a bit longer than usual to respond because they are away from their office or traveling for business. If you have not heard back from your lawyer within 48 hours of sending them an important email, you should send another email just asking if there is any news or status about your case.

Call Them

One of the most common reasons that lawyers fail to communicate with their clients is because they are simply too busy. If you feel like you are getting the runaround, it may be time to take a more direct approach and call your lawyer directly.

Calculate How Much Money is Owed

If your lawyer has been slow in responding or has failed to meet the deadlines that were agreed upon in your contract, you may be entitled to some compensation. You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible about how and how much you are owed for how long of a delay there has been.

Make Complaints

If your lawyer does not seem interested in communicating with you or is consistently causing delays in how quickly they can meet the deadlines that have been agreed upon, you may want to file complaints with your local bar association. You can also file a complaint with the state consumer protection agency if you believe that there could be professional misconduct or malpractice involved.

Terminate Their Services

Ultimately, if your lawyer is not communicating and is causing delays in how quickly they can meet the agreed-upon deadlines, you may want to consider firing them. You should first make sure that you have alternative legal representation lined up with a local professional before making any decisions. This will ensure that you will not be left high and dry with no one willing to take on your case.

American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Here are a few rules from the American Bar Association regarding how a lawyer should interact and communicate with their clients.

Client-Lawyer Relationship Rule 1.4 Communication

A lawyer shall:

1.4(a) Promptly inform the client of any decisions or circumstances with respect to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in rule 1.0(e), is required by these rules;

1.4(b) Reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;

1.4(c) Keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;

1.4(d) Respond to reasonable requests for information; and

1.4(e) Consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

Communication is the Key

Communication is the key to finding a great lawyer who will be able to help you get through the legal process necessary to resolve your case. This means finding one who is easy to contact and prompt in their responses. It also means finding a lawyer who takes the time to explain things in an understandable way.

So before hiring an attorney, just check the ratings and personal experience of our directory service users about a particular lawyer or law firm. You will find this info in their reviews below. Also, if you want to know more about a particular lawyer or law firm, you should visit their profile page and read through other reviews, ratings, and feedback left by our users.

Remember that each case is different and the outcome of your case depends on the facts of your specific situation.

Written By

Matt has over 10 years of legal writing experience. He's worked and written for legal websites for serval websites including Truskett Law, Bruner Law, Jeffrey & Erwin, Gary Crews, PLLC., Deposition Academy, and Wagner & Lynch.


Legal Blaze is your source for legal related information that is free and clear. Our content is independently curated with an unbiased approach. Our team consists of legal website writers, lawyers, and legal marketing experts. We explain the process in an informational format. Our content is reviewed for factual accuracy.

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