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Solicitor response time

(24 Posts)
mrsbee2be Sun 07-Aug-16 22:16:53

I (along with a sibling) have recently instructed a solicitor to contest my fathers will, we particularly chose the solicitor after a lot of research, due to his experience in this area and now wondering if we've made the wrong choice.
What is a realistic timescale in which the solicitor should be responding to my emails/calls?
When we first met him we were told that we could contact him anytime via phone or email for updates but yet when I do he never responds. I left a voicemail last week asking for an update after 2 similar emails he hadn't responded to (over 4 weeks) and then received a letter (sent as email attachment) in response apologising as he'd had 'urgent business to attend to'
Is that normal for a solicitor?

specialsubject Mon 08-Aug-16 09:58:06

No. Raise to the senior partner and tell them you want answers in two days.
If he is the senior partner or no improvement, sack and go elsewhere.

redhat Mon 08-Aug-16 10:02:52

I would say that during the summer time you need to be slightly more realistic than 2 days (lots of us have to cover colleagues' work due to holidays etc) but a response within a week is certainly not unrealistic. 4 weeks is a long time.

specialsubject Mon 08-Aug-16 12:04:59

I disagree. I don't recall having a job where the fact that it was summer meant that deadlines extended. If the guy had a bit of brain he would manage expectations and say when he would respond'. He's told the OP that someone else is far more important than they are, so I think returning this two-finger salute by sacking him is the easiest option.

redhat Mon 08-Aug-16 16:51:10

What deadlines? There don't seem to be any deadlines here.

Clearly yes he would be doing a better job if he managed expectations. Plus I'm certainly not saying that 4 weeks to respond is acceptable - it isn't.

However there will be times when a solicitor cannot provide a response within 2 days, particularly if they are in court. Given that he sent a letter it sounds as though it was a detailed response required rather than a couple of lines.

specialsubject Mon 08-Aug-16 17:05:24

The letter says something else was more important. Great way to treat paying customers....

Clearly this arrogant joker will do somethg when he feels like it. People who only get off their arses when there is a deadline make work for others. Sod that.

mrsbee2be Mon 08-Aug-16 18:30:52

Thanks for the replies....
There have been deadlines, he sent a letter to another solicitor on my behalf with an accepted response date of the 30th June, but then when I asked (by email, twice over 4 weeks) if they had replied, no response from my solicitor.... Took my voicemail (22nd July) for him to finally reply, by email on the 27th July.... Attached was the letter from the other solicitor dated the 29th June, so they had replied in the timescale but my solicitor hadn't let me know. I now need another letter sending, have asked the timescale of this & guess what, no response!

Isn't it just common decency to acknowledge an email, even if you can't provide an answer these, he could just say I'm working on it rather than I'm working on it?

Would love to sack him off, but truth is I can't afford a second set of fees on top of

redhat Mon 08-Aug-16 18:33:57

It sounds like he's under pressure.

I'd send a polite email asking whether he has the capacity to continue with your job and if not whether he can recommend someone at another firm who can deal with it for you.

mrsbee2be Mon 08-Aug-16 18:34:03

This is his wording/excuse......

Firstly, please accept my apologies for the delay in sending these to you. I was hoping that I would be able to prepare a full letter of claim sent to you at the same time, however, I have had a number of urgent matters recently which have required my attention and I have therefore been unable to prepare a letter of claim to date.

Is that a valid excuse for ignoring me? I emailed straight back asking for a timescale and of course no response.

CatchIt Mon 08-Aug-16 19:30:06

I will never understand why solicitors can't use emails like everyone else. They're so stuck in the dark ages!

No advice other than full sympathy!!

Sootica Mon 08-Aug-16 23:22:44

He's got too much work on and you need a large piece of work or a difficult thing that requires a few hours clearing in his diary and he hasn't got it. You need to shout louder and harder to get to the top of the pile to get that time space or change solicitors

mrsbee2be Tue 09-Aug-16 06:51:22

Thanks, yes going to try ringing again today and if not successful follow it up with a strongly worded email....
I've never needed a solicitor before now, so wasn't really sure what standard practice is etc, but he really is bugging me, I was waiting for him to bill me for last month and luckily he hasn't as I would def complain then!

redhat Tue 09-Aug-16 08:28:49

Solicitors do use email catchit. But sometimes our responses are six or seven pages long and as such we tend to type/dictate into a letter and attach it to an email. It's far easier to read that way and looks more professional.

I don't know of any solicitors who don't use email (although did have a boss once who just occasionally poked the computer with a ruler).

He's probably very conscious of the delay but simply hasn't had the space as sootica describes*. It's horrible when you get into that position and in the summer there are fewer people around to assist you and free up some capacity. You don't mean to be letting people down or causing delay but there simply are not enough hours in the day and you do have to prioritise court deadlines etc.

If he needs to draft a letter of claim for you then that may well be a full day's work (depending on the circumstances).

Its up to you OP but a "strongly worded email" isn't necessarily going to help you get to the top of his pile. Polite and understanding but firm is far more likely to get you jumped to the front of his queue.

Alisvolatpropiis Tue 09-Aug-16 08:35:04

In terms of his reasoning for the delay, yes that it a good reason to "ignore you". There will almost certainly be other cases which are more urgent than yours.

It may be he is trying to manage your expectations as to contact and updates too, which almost certainly could be handled better.

However at this point, before the letter of claim is sent, there will be very little to update you on so it might be better to wait for him to contact you.

As others have said during the summer solicitors will often be covering the case load of colleagues on leave which adds extra pressure.

specialsubject Tue 09-Aug-16 11:46:22

you know those plumbers/electricians who don't return calls for quotes? That's because they have too much work.

This guy is the same, only he's let you sign up to be messed about.

sack and find someone else. His time management and client management skills are demonstrably poor. Doesn't matter how good a solicitor he is because you'll be waiting a long time to get that far!

noteabagsintoilet Wed 10-Aug-16 12:10:14

ive had this too - been in meetings, been at court, keep missing each other - im dealing with the MD of a company who do I complain to - i feel I have completely been taken advantage of - you go to an expert to deal with a situation that you have no experience in and they run rings round you -they need to be more accountable

mrsbee2be Wed 10-Aug-16 19:27:06

Yep I feel I am being taken advantage of, I'm stuck because the fees are a lot of money for me and I can't go elsewhere and pay it again, I'm just not in a situation to be able to do that.
I just wish he'd told us before hand that he didn't have enough time to help, Rather than sign us up I think he should have recommended a colleague maybe? But I feel like the other cases are being treated with higher priority (probably worth more) but surely all clients should be treated equally?

I know writing a letter of claim takes time but replying to an email asking how long it will take shouldn't!

specialsubject Thu 11-Aug-16 10:02:59

He's not providing the service you paid for. No one gets to do that. Escalate. Your money is as good as anyone else's .

mrsbee2be Fri 12-Aug-16 21:09:08

Well as if by magic, I moaned on here sent an email (short but sweet) and got an instant (12 hours overnight) reply with all needed letters on, big apology and scheduled call for Monday...... I wonder if he's on mumsnet.

Next question, can I negotiate a solicitors bill?

PaintedDrivesAndPolishedGrass Fri 12-Aug-16 21:13:34

Did you sign a terms of business letting out his fees?

PaintedDrivesAndPolishedGrass Fri 12-Aug-16 21:14:14

Setting not lettingconfused

JaneAustinAllegro Fri 12-Aug-16 21:14:43

you're the client, I see no need whatsoever for the client to need to suck up to the solicitor in order to secure the service they're paying for (and Redhat, I'm one too). It is simply unacceptable to tell a client that they are less important than your other clients. Either don't take the work on if you can't manage it, or get your secretary / paralegal to send a holding response giving deadlines.
OP yes you can, but rather harder to do once they've done work in accordance with the terms set out in your client care letter, and also in the situation where you are already clearly not a top priority for this individual. if your work becomes less profitable, I suspect you're likely to slip further down the pile of his other madly important clients

BoaConstrictor Fri 12-Aug-16 21:21:28

You say you can't pay anyone else. Why not? You haven't paid this man in advance have you?
I would try & speak to him as he may say something over the phone which he won't put in a letter...it may be that a colleague has gone into labour weeks before her due date or another colleague is on compassionate need or similar, all of which could lead to him unexpectedly having more work.
Going back to fees, have you agreed a fixed fee deal? If not, remember each time you email him or call him, he will charge you for dealing with it. It puts you between a rock & a hard place as you don't know if he needs chasing or not. Also, solicitors dealing with small matters and thus having numerous clients can waste spend a lot of time listening to voicemails/reading emails asking for an update which diminishes time available to either give an update or do the actual work.
Despite all I have said, I think they have offered you a poor service & that you need to ask your solicitor when & how you will be updated.

mrsbee2be Fri 12-Aug-16 23:25:17

Yes I signed something at the start but haven't paid anything up front.

I agreed to be billed monthly but have only had one bill in 3 months.
So far I have have paid for one letter he wrote on my behalf, requesting info on will/grant of probate, today's he's sent another through, a draft letter of claim so I guess I'll get another bill for this at the end of the month, pretty sure he doesn't charge for sending emails/taking calls as I asked that when we first met.

I can't instruct another solicitor as I simply cannot afford it, I'll be due another bill soon and surely if I go elsewhere I will have to restart the process and then pay someone for initial advice (couldn't find anyone who would offer it free) then to write the letters again, on top of the bill I'll get here?

I have tried to speak to him by phone but get no response, I will however try again this week and see what he says

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