Looks Like She Just Discovered A New Legal Term!

, , , | Legal | November 9, 2019

(I work for a legal office. We are a small office and I am the only secretary here on this day. I get a phone call.)

Me: “[Law Office].”

Caller: “Yes, hi, I’d like to speak to an attorney. Are you an attorney?”

Me: “No, ma’am, I’m just a secretary. Our attorney is in court. Can I take a message?”

Caller: “No, I’d just like to speak to an attorney. Are you an attorney?”

Me: *internally screaming* “No, ma’am, I’m not. But may I take a message?”

Caller: “Yes, I want to see about suing someone for alienation of affection.”

Me: *pause* “Can you give me some more information, ma’am?”

Caller: “Yes, my husband cheated with a floozie in [Town] and I want to talk to someone about alienation of affection!”

Me: “Ma’am, are you wanting to get a divorce?”

Caller: “Oh, no, we’ve been divorced for two and a half years… but I found out that before we got divorced, he was cheating on me with this woman from [Town], and now I want to sue her for alienation of affection!”

(I took her contact information for the message and hung up. As soon as the phone was disconnected, I had a hearty laugh for a minute. I’ve worked in the legal field for years and never heard the term “alienation of affection” before!)

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I’m Going To Use The Law To Sue You For Not Using The Law!

, , , , | Right | October 25, 2019

(I work at a small law office that does disability claims. My main job is answering the phone and directing calls, or answering questions as needed. This call is one I’ve never dealt with before and still leaves me laughing weeks later.)

Me: “Thank you for calling [Law Office]. How can I help you?”

Caller: “I got hit!”

Me: “Are you okay? Have you contacted 911?”

Caller: “No! This happened last week. I got hit by some a** b*****d who was too busy swerving around the road, and he knocked my car off the road! I want to sue him!” 

Me: “I see. I’m sorry that happened, ma’am, but we only do disability law.”

Caller: “See, he wasn’t paying attention. He told the cops he was swerving around someone else, and he hit me. My neck and back hurts now. I had to go to the emergency room, and my car got dented. They’re going to have to take off the whole right side.”

Me: “Again, I’m sorry to hear that, but–“

Caller: “He knocked me right off the road. Can you believe that? Said that I was in his blind side. I want to sue him; he needs to pay my medical bills, d*** it.”

Me: “Okay, we can’t help you, but I can give you a number to the state bar referral.”

Caller: “What?”

Me: “We only do disability law. We can’t help. But I can give you a numb–“

Caller: “Why can’t you help me? I’m in my rights to sue if I want to! He hit me!”

Me: “Because we only do dis–“

Caller: “I’m going to sue you! You’re refusing to help me! I’m calling the newspapers and letting them know about you and your office, b****! F*** you!”

(We have yet to hear anything.)

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The Law Applies To Everyone Except Me

, , | Legal | October 18, 2019

(I work as a legal assistant for a small civil litigation firm while in law school. Part of my job is to help clients answer “interrogatories,” i.e. official questions submitted by opposing counsel aimed at gathering potential evidence. Many of these questions can be quite complicated, but there are plenty of simple ones such as, “Please provide your previous addresses,” or, “Have you ever been a party to a lawsuit before?” In general, we forward the entire question list with instructions to the client to answer what they can and then return the list. I then revise their answers to what is legally relevant to the case, put in objections, and help with the remaining questions. These instructions also say, in big, bold letters in extra-large type, “YOU ARE LEGALLY OBLIGATED UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY.” More often than not, the list is returned almost entirely blank, leading to exchanges such as these. An exchange from a landlord/tenant dispute:)

Me: “So, you’ve never lived anywhere else?”

Client #1: “Nope.”

Me: “But you’ve changed your address with us twice.”

Client #1: “Oh, well, then, put those in.”

Me: “Okay, I can do that. Do you have any addresses from before we started working on your case?”

Client #1: “Well, yeah, but I don’t remember them.”

Me: “Do you have any records that you can consult? Past bills, maybe?”

Client #1: “I guess. That’s a lot of work to go through them, though. Can’t I just not answer that one?”

Me: “No. No, you cannot.”

(Another exchange:)

Me: “I see your medical provider information is left blank. We need to fill this in.”

Client #2: “No.”

Me: “No?”

Client #2: “I don’t want them talking to my doctor. That’s not their business. Why are they asking for that?”

Me: “You’re claiming you were injured. They have to know who treated you so that they can get medical records related to the injury, because that is potentially evidence.”

Client #2: “What do you mean, my medical records are evidence?!”

(Another common exchange:)

Me: “This says you’ve never been involved in any other lawsuits. As I recall, you had a divorce a couple of years back, right?”

Client #3: “Oh, yeah. It was a huge mess. It took ages for our lawyers to iron that out. The judge got tired of hearing from us!” *laughs*

Me: “Okay, that counts as a lawsuit, so we’re going to need the information for that.”

Client #3: “Wait, that counts?”

(Yet another exchange:)

Me: *discussing a form with all of her information clearly filled in* “Why didn’t you sign the form we sent you?”

Client #4: “I didn’t think that applied to me.”

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Might Have To Reschedule Again If You Don’t Stop Interrupting!

, , , | Legal | October 16, 2019

(I work as an attorney. There are strict rules about when and how parties to a lawsuit can communicate with the judge handling it. Essentially, no attorney or client can speak directly to the judge while their lawsuit is pending without the presence or consent of the attorney for the other side, and it cannot be done outside of a hearing or a meeting either called by the judge or scheduled with proper notice given to all parties. Notice requirements have their own set of rules, too. Time and again I have had to explain this to clients who, for reasons I do not understand, seem to think that attorneys can just call up the judge directly to discuss their case. This exchange takes the cake, however:)

Me: “Hi there! I’m just reaching out to let you know that the hearing has been rescheduled for [date]; we will be sending–”

Client: *interrupting* WHAT?! Why was it rescheduled!?!

Me: “Well, the court had to reschedule it. So, we will be–”

Client: *interrupting again* “Why? Why did the court reschedule? Tell me why.”

Me: “The clerk did not see fit to provide us with a reason, so it could be any number of things, really. We will–”

Client: *interrupting a third time* “What did the judge say?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Client: “WHAT. DID. THE. JUDGE. SAY?”

Me: “The judge didn’t say anything; his clerk was the one who informed us of the schedule change, but–”

Client: *interrupting* Why didn’t you ask the judge?! Why didn’t you take this up with him?!”

Me: “Well, actually, we can’t, because–”

Client: *interrupting* “Oh, you ‘can’t.’ I see. You just ‘can’t.’” *I can hear the air quotes she’s using.* “This is unacceptable. You call the judge. You call the judge right now and you get him to un-reschedule.”

Me: “I’m afraid I am unable to do that. You see–”

Client: *interrupting* “Enough! Stop saying you can’t. You can call the judge, and you will, because that is what I’m paying you to do.”

Me: “Ma’am, it would be illegal for us to do so.”

Client: “What?”

Me: “The court rules say that attorneys can not speak directly to a judge about a lawsuit on the judge’s docket while that suit is pending.”

Client: “Bulls***. Where does it say that?”

Me: *cites a long string of court rules* “This is done to protect all parties from having unfair access to the judge. You wouldn’t want opposing counsel to be able to do that, would you?”

Client: “Well, no, I suppose not…”

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It’s Time For A Fax Check Facts Check

, , , | Right | October 1, 2019

(My firm has several offices. I work 300 miles away from the “main office.” Sometimes the main office sends clients to my office to sign settlement documents.)

Client: *signs settlement documents* “Okay, where’s my settlement check?”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, I do not have it. It’ll be mailed to you once I get these signed documents back to your caseworker.”

Client: “What? I was told you have it.”

Me: “I do not. I have the settlement documents your case manager faxed me, but no check.  I apologize for the misunderstanding.”

Client: “Well, tell [Caseworker] to fax the check over.”

Me: *laughs*

Client: “I’m serious.”

Me: “…”

Client: “Well?”

Me: “You realize the bank will not take a faxed check, right?”

Client: “Why not?!”

Me: “Hold on one sec; let me see if I can get your caseworker on the phone.” 

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