Bad Lawyer, Good Lawyer, Communication, Expectations, Evidence.
What To Do When… You Picked A Bad Lawyer.
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WTDW Podcast | Episode 50: What To Do When… You Picked A Bad Lawyer.
The objective of the What To Do When… podcast is to discuss common legal scenarios faced by everyday citizens in Virginia. Critzer and Cardani practice law throughout Virginia and focus their practice around the state’s capital of Richmond, in the Piedmont region. Tune in and subscribe to learn about legal topics such as reckless driving by speeding, bad lawyers, Will Knows Weed, juvenile defense, juvenile sex crimes, reckless driving, the legalization of marijuana in Virginia, divorce 101, Child Support, and others.
What To Do When… Intro 00:01
Welcome to What To Do When… A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss what to do when and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.
Scott Cardani 0:29
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of what to do when a podcast of Critzer Cardani here in Richmond, Virginia. I’m Scott and Jackie’s here with us.
Jackie Critzer 0:37
What’s on the docket? Today, Scott?
Scott Cardani 0:39
What to Do When… You Have Picked a Bad Lawyer.
Jackie Critzer 0:43
How do you know if it is a bad lawyer?
Scott Cardani 0:45
Are there such a thing as a bad lawyer?
Jackie Critzer 0:47
Is there such a thing?
Scott Cardani 0:49
Yeah, or Wow, that was really good grammar, Scott. Anyway.
Jackie Critzer 0:52
And if there’s a bad lawyer, then there are good lawyers as well.
Scott Cardani 0:56
Yeah, and I don’t know that it’s good or bad lawyer either. And you would say the same thing. A lot of time. It’s fit. Sure.
Jackie Critzer 1:02
Scott Cardani 1:03
Sure, all kinds of things. But what do you do Jackie, I got. I’m in a divorce case, since we hit a lot of those. And I’m just feeling like, I’m not connecting with my attorney. I don’t feel like he’s doing the job. I paid him to do whatever it may be. What are some other reasons? He’s not doing the job?
Jackie Critzer 1:19
Lack of communication
Scott Cardani 1:20
Lack of communication, big one. I just really that’s that’s probably the biggest thing or you’re not getting the results that you want.
Jackie Critzer 1:29
Let me ask you this.
Scott Cardani 1:30
Jackie Critzer 1:31
If the case is just taking too long to get to court, is that a reason to fire a lawyer? Does that make a bad lawyer?
Scott Cardani 1:39
I would have a hard time with that. Because sometimes it has nothing to do with the lawyer at all.
Jackie Critzer 1:43
Scott Cardani 1:43
I mean, we run into things like – since post COVID. Courts dockets, especially in Chesterfield are just slam trying to get a court dates like I don’t know, it’s never been so hard in my life. I’m pendant light, which is a temporary order in support case, you should be able to get them in 30 days guaranteed. Now, they don’t guarantee that anymore. And then you’re getting on dockets where they’re picking multiple cases, for a day a criminal case might be in front of yours. And if that criminal case they decided to try it or not try depends on whether you go or don’t go. And it’s very difficult sometimes just to get on the courts docket.
Jackie Critzer 2:21
I have no jurisdiction right now. And I won’t disparage any one of our local jurisdictions that we filed the paperwork at the beginning of March, and it still has not been docketed. And this were several months later, still not documented. So and we call and we follow up, has it been set? Has it been set? And these things, I mean, the courts are understaffed, they their turnover is high right now. So I brought that up very specifically, just because your case is taking forever to get to court does not mean your attorney hasn’t done what they’re supposed to do in order to get you into court. Now, sometimes your attorney may be sleeping on the job and not getting you to court when you need to get to court. But that alone is definitely not a reason. But what are you going to do when you’ve picked a bad one? What are you going to do when you can’t get communication? When you aren’t getting the results that you’re looking for?
Scott Cardani 3:11
Well, I think what at some point, you just have to realize that what’s going on and you know, and stop. You know, I think some people fight this and they don’t want to switch and I get that. You know, people think it’s going to be really hard for another lawyer to pick up where you are in. Depending on the complexity of your case, it may be it may be a lot of homework the lawyer has to do to catch up. But we’re pretty competent to do that. So like most lawyers are pretty competent to do that. So that shouldn’t be your reasoning, but over waiting the period that your stay in frustration, things start to break down even worse, that’s not healthy. So if you’re feeling this…
Jackie Critzer 3:43
Having to wait and not having an explanation as to why you’re waiting, again, that goes back to the communication issue. I think it’s important. So one thing that that might cue you that you’re you don’t have the best attorney working for you for this particular case is that you’ve provided some evidence that they’re just not using. So you’ve gone to court, you’ve had a hearing, and for whatever reason they didn’t provide they didn’t use the evidence that you gave them of something that would have been made a material difference in the outcome on that particular day. Well, what does that mean? That’s a whole lot of legal jargon, to really say, if Scott is my client, and he gives me a notebook full of text messages, I’m not likely to read through them, I’m just not. What Scott needs to do is highlight the ones that make sense. So this this is where that parent, you know, told me I couldn’t have visitation. This is where that parents said, it doesn’t matter. Take it to the judge, I don’t care, you’re not getting their kids. Those are the pieces that are important. And if he had given me those messages, and I went to court, and I didn’t introduce those text messages about how the other parent was withholding children, then and then the court may ultimately had no idea that that was going on that is going to affect the outcome that on that particular day and maybe even in the future. So though So the kinds of things, not just because the attorney didn’t use everything that you gave him, that’s not going to happen ever. We’re limited to an hour, two hours, three hours, maybe even a day to put on your entire story that would take weeks to put on. It’s not it’s not TV, right? We don’t get to wrap these up in 30 minutes and hope that the court gets a great picture of it. So I think evidence is a big piece of it, if you’ve given them something that’s relative and material that they just didn’t put on, forgot they had or lost, right when when things are getting lost. That’s that should be a clue that something’s something’s amiss there.
Scott Cardani 5:38
Yeah, and those are all really important things. And again, as Jackie said, volume is very rarely important in a courtroom. And as you’re, you know, one of the things as you’re keep preparing for court, when things you as you get frustrated, you’re getting that point about a civil suit on when you should be keeping those emails and kind of starting to set him aside and a book or some text messages and start to kind of compile that 10, top top 10 or top 20. Because as Jackie said, it’s impossible. And I think one of the things she said it’s super important to most people to understand. When you’re in the middle of a court hearing, at least Jackie and I and Will are watching the judge. We’re watching the other side, we’re watching the people in a courtroom, we’re making strategic decisions by the second of what we think is winning and what we think is losing. So you may have the stack that you think I know, this is winning, and I’m watching the judge sleep on the first piece of evidence I turned in the first email, he’s like, I don’t care about this. Right. And you know, you watch that stuff. You know, you don’t always make perfect decisions. But you know, after you’re doing it for a lot of years, you really realize, hey, the judge is getting this, he’s eating this and give him some more. It’s kind of like feeding, feeding a pet. They liked the food you feed you feed, no cannot you’re like I need to switch gears.
Jackie Critzer 6:48
Well, no one no one of these issues is a reason alone to to hire a new attorney. But when you’re starting to see a combination of multiple issues, you need to re examine whether that attorney is a good fit for you. So to that end, what then makes a good attorney? What how is how can you tell you about a good attorney, and that’s a good fit?
Scott Cardani 7:08
I think there’s a lot of things that really come into that factor. But the biggest thing is when you meet with them, you’re able to communicate well. And you know, they’re hearing you, you they’re giving you good feedback you feel heard, I think that’s always a big thing that you’re feeling heard, that means your communication style works, and they receive it. If you walk out of that initial meeting, and you don’t feel like he really heard you, that’s probably a first step that maybe that’s not it, you know, and it’s okay to shop around a little bit to try to find that person who gets you so to speak and understand. And, you know, sometimes it’s the language they use or use certain language that is, in your culture, a culture is not the right word, but I don’t have another word for it. But like, the way you live, the friends, you have all kinds of speak the same language, you want an attorney who’s understands that so you’re not having to communicate differently, just to get your points across.
Jackie Critzer 7:58
I think communication is important. I think also, I’m big on your gut, if you have a good gut feeling with the attorney, sometimes we’re led astray by our gut, right? That’s fair. But I’m a gut girl. And if I have a good rapport with someone, and I feel like yep, you’ve got exactly what I have in mind. I’m more likely to move forward. I’ll tell you this, one of the questions that I try to cover even when clients don’t ask me, I try to manage their expectations. But this is important. What are your goals in this litigation? What is it you’re trying to accomplish? Because if if I, if I asked that question, and number one, they can’t articulate a goal. That’s, that’s something we need to talk about. Because then we’re going to be all over the place. And if they can’t articulate a goal, and I think it’s unlikely, grossly unlikely, I’m going to tell them, and I’m going to say I just don’t see where any amount of evidence is going to support you in reaching that goal. What’s more likely to happen, what I think is more realistic is this step. And so managing expectations, I think, is really important. So if you’re meeting with attorneys, and they’re not asking you questions about what your goals are, and litigation, that should be a red flag for you, you really need it. And you need to be ready to articulate what your goal of litigation is, and figure out whether it’s it’s too far reaching or whether it’s realistic.
Scott Cardani 9:15
And I think another thing is, I call it the sales pitch. But you know, a lot of people can sell you a car, but they have no idea what’s the car can do. And so when you’re picking a lawyer, you want somebody who like I said, and I know this sounds so weird, but it’s kind of like gets you you know, say you’re a strong faith person, you have a strong belief in God and you want somebody that understands that that relationship that understanding or if you’re somewhere else and you know you’re has some other kind of thing that this is important to you and important to your family. Some people education is the biggest piece of their you know their family existence. You want a lawyer who understands your love of education and your desire for your kids to be the most highly educated kids there is and things like that because What it does, is it builds authenticity with your attorney when he’s presenting the case. And he doesn’t agree with what you believe in. And as Jackie was saying, even your expectations, for instance, Jackie comes in my office and says, Well, I don’t want dad to ever see the kids ever, ever, ever, ever. He doesn’t have any right to him. And I’m like, Okay, what’s your reason for that? I just don’t like him. He’s an SOB, bla bla bla, both Jack and I’d say, well, that’s really an unrealistic expectation, you’re gonna get that, but if I was the attorney went, Okay, I’m gonna get you that.
Jackie Critzer 10:34
Which we’ve had clients tell us that other attorneys have sold them a bill of goods, I like to say,
Scott Cardani 10:39
Yeah, and so the point is, when I’m in court, and I’m putting on Jackie’s case, the judge is reading right through me that I’m not buying what I’m selling. And when I’m not buying what I’m selling, he’s not gonna buy what I’m selling. You know. So that’s my point. I think authenticity is such an important part. And sometimes in a case, I feel like, maybe it’s gotten to a point where I’m in the feel like, I can’t represent this person to the, the ability that and then it’s not that they have it, or they’re a bad person, or they have a bad case, it’s just, I can’t get on board with where they are.
Jackie Critzer 11:12
Sharing a worldview, I feel like is really what you’re sort of honing in on. And if we don’t have some similarities. How we do life, or if I just have no clear understanding of any kind, what what lens you view the world through, I’m going to have a difficult time. Not impossible, but if we if I don’t have the relationship with you, and the communication style with you to be able to figure that out and figure out your lens, I’ll just not be able to sell it. So. And most people I would say are in sort of the middle of the road, when we’re when we find that the worldview really makes a difference is when you have some people who maybe are a little farther outlying I mean, I love homeschool programs. I think a lot of them are great. And Scott feels the same way. And there are a lot of families that we deal with who sort of tried to balance that and okay, yes, we do. Like we do like homeschooling? No, we don’t like homeschooling, and what happens when you go to court with an attorney who doesn’t really buy into homeschooling, and that’s something that’s part of your worldview, is that you want to homeschool your kids. It, that’s the cross that you you just have to figure out, Is this gonna make sense for my attorney and for me, and how we how we see life together.
Scott Cardani 12:23
And sometimes it matters less. I think in criminal law, it matters a little less.
Jackie Critzer 12:28
I think that’s true.
Scott Cardani 12:28
Because that’s true criminal law is more factual based, whether you did or didn’t do it. Whether they have the evidence or don’t have the evidence.
Jackie Critzer 12:30
Whether you did or didn’t do it. No, Scott, whether the Commonwealth has the evidence against you to prove that you did something.
Scott Cardani 12:40
Beyond a reasonable doubt, we’re gonna go there. And that’s very true. And we could talk about that, but I don’t want to get on that rabbit trail. But my point is, sometimes like business litigation, which we do a lot of like, you know, contractors who didn’t do their work, or, you know, people didn’t pay the contractor, those kinds of things. Personal injury, I think is a little different. Sometimes you need somebody understands how you were injured by this accident, sure, and how it affected your life I, I used to be told in law school, I remember the story about a lady who couldn’t really get, I guess the, her client had a scar on her face. And it wasn’t that bad of a scar. But it really bothered the lady in the attorney who didn’t have any scars. And she said she couldn’t get it. So what she did for a day was she put a fake scar on her face and walked around with it in our places. And she said, she got so many looks and so many things that she said she started to get the compassion, she needed to try the case. And so, you know, that’s what I want to do, I want to be able to get that place with you that I understand where you’re coming from. And again, not all, it doesn’t matter in every case, I think a DUI case can kind of be a DUI case sometimes. But there are times when you need somebody really understands how you got the situation you got into and it believes you and understands, okay, I get that you’re drinking too much church wine. I know, just kidding. But you know, whatever the case may be, you know, so understanding all that is very important. And we just want you to have for us at Critzer Cardani. We want you to be connected with us in the sense of we’re handling your case, we’re hearing you what you need, and providing what you need to the best of our ability, and being able to be authentic in that communication.
Jackie Critzer 14:18
We have the integrity to be able to say, I don’t think we’re a good fit. I just don’t think that you and I see this the same. And it’s going to be better. Here’s your name, or two or three of people that I think are going to fit with you better. I can count on two fingers, one finger. How many times I’ve had to do that because I feel like I’m naturally an empath. And so I can be very empathetic and understand why people have the position that they have and where they are in their life and where they are in their journey. And then that’s why I do what I do. I want to help people further, further down the path in their journey. So big takeaways today, Scott?
Scott Cardani 14:55
Big takeaway is when you have a lawyer that you don’t feel you’re connecting with it It’s time to really pull your head up and start to evaluate that and say, okay, is this something I can live with or not? And make that decision early as you can. And I realize sometimes that’s not going to happen till later on, and it just happens. Right? So that’s number one. Number two?
Jackie Critzer 15:14
Recognizing how to pick a better attorney, the communication style, the worldview, being able to ask questions about goals and and how that attorney is going to attain those goals for you what that’s going to look like what the timeframe is looking like, and having realistic expectations. And having that conversation with the attorney, not a paralegal, not a staff member, but with the attorney is also going to give you some insight as to their depth of knowledge in the area that they’re practicing as well.
Scott Cardani 15:43
Yep. And I honestly don’t think I have a three do you have a three? I don’t have a three today.
Jackie Critzer 15:49
We’re good lawyers.
Scott Cardani 15:53
And we appreciate that. Thank you for joining us today. We were really trying to help you get to the place you need to be and it’s important to have a relationship with your lawyer where you can prosper. Remember to like and subscribe.
Jackie Critzer 16:06
Listen to the podcast wherever you listen to your other podcast. Thanks so much.
Scott Cardani 16:11
Have a good day.
What To Do When… Outro 13:51
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of What To Do When… For more episodes, be sure to subscribe to our podcast and we encourage you to check archives to listen to previous topics. Tune in next week for a new episode and some fresh perspective from Critzer Cardani.
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We look forward to helping you in this venture and Good Luck!