Lawyers Were Never Real People

, , , , , | Legal | August 10, 2018

(I work for a government department that deals mainly with legal professionals, but we do occasionally get calls from members of the general public.)

Colleague: *on phone* “It’s a bit complicated. Are you a lawyer or a real person?”

The Walking Red(Handed)

, , , , , | Legal | August 8, 2018

(I’ve just been hired on by a lawyer who deals with disability claims, so I’ve put my two weeks in at the store I have worked at for a few years. This means during the day, I work at the law office, and I close evenings at the store. Since I’m still new to the job, I have to take my time with asking potential clients pertinent questions about their disabilities. I’m on my fourth day there, when a woman in her mid-forties comes in, leaning heavily on a walker, barely shuffling her feet. She is sweating furiously and panting, and drops down on the couch in the receptionist area.)

Me: “Oh, ma’am! Are you okay? Would you like some water to help cool you down?”

Woman: “You don’t have parking in front of your office.”

Me: “No, ma’am. Unfortunately, there was no place to put the parking area.”

(Our law office is an old house with barely any lawn, so the parking is across the street, except for a lone parking area meant for handicapped parking.)

Woman: “I could have hurt myself crossing the street. I’m not so sure I want to hire Mr. [Lawyer] now.”

Me: “Oh, you’re not a current client?”

Woman: “No! And you should tell him that making people park across the street is bad for business!”

Me: “I do apologize, ma’am. There’s nothing we can do about that. But since you’re not a client yet, how about you sit and get some rest, then I can ask you some questions about why you’d like to hire Mr. [Lawyer].”

Woman: *looking offended* “I’m not telling you that! That’s not your business.”

Me: “Unfortunately, it’s my job to ask these sort of questions so we can help in the best possible way we can. You don’t have to give me extensive information, just a briefing over what your disability is.”

Woman: “I got hurt in a serious wreck about six months ago, and ever since then, walking, sitting, standing, and even peeing is unbearable! If it weren’t for my walker, I wouldn’t be able to get around. It’s bad enough I have diabetes on top of that, plus the doctor said that I need to get surgery on my back if I ever want to be normal again, and I can’t do that. I don’t have any kind of insurance.”

Me: *feeling something is off* “I see.”

(I take her through her remaining information, such as which doctors she has gone to about her injuries and what medication she’s on. When I tell her that the lawyer will request a meeting with her at another date, she gets livid and says she’s changed her mind. She takes her time, struggling with her walker, and makes a point to knock over a vase on her way out, so I remember her very well. Two days later, I’m at the store, training my replacement at the register, when the same woman comes up. There’s no walker, the woman doesn’t seem to have any problems at all, and she doesn’t seem to recognize me. I wait for my replacement to start checking her out.)

Me: “It’s good to see you about, Mrs. [Woman]. How are you doing today?”

Woman: “I don’t know you. How do you know me?”

Me: “You came in two days ago to file for disability. I’m glad to know that the car accident you were in hasn’t hindered you completely. You don’t even need your walker this evening.”

Woman: “Oh, uh, oh. Well, I don’t need it all the time. I just… I’m just having a good day. That’s all.” *goes red and hurries to give my coworker her credit card*

Coworker: *after the woman has gone* “That was one of your new boss’s clients?”

Me: “Not an more.”

The Mother Of All Legal Advice

, , , | Legal | July 31, 2018

(We have a client whose mother keeps a stranglehold on his activities. He is in his 20s, and so is a legal adult, but any time he dares attempt to escape his mother, she calls around frantically to find help to bring her boy home. During one such episode of freedom, he calls us to demand we not share anything about his case with his mother anymore, which we confirm with him repeatedly each time he calls after that. A month before his hearing, we call him to give him notification of his hearing date, and his mother returns the call to demand information on his case.)

Me: “I’m not able to share any information about [Client] or his case with you without his permission, Mrs. [Mom].”

Mom: “Really! Since when?”

Me: “[Client] asked us to no longer speak with you. I do apologize, but without his permission–”

Mom: “Well, that’s just fine! I’m trying to help him with his disability case, and y’all can’t tell me anything about it? You know he’s at home with me right now, right? I can just tell him to call and ask you, and he’ll give me that information!”

Me: “That may be, but without his permission, I cannot legally give you that information. He would have to be the one to do so.”

Mom: “I’m going to call him right now. Didn’t think I’d know when y’all called, did you? I have his phone! You know he’s not going to that hearing without me, right?”

Me: “Mr. [Client] will have to make that decision. However, if he doesn’t go, then he’s not going to be awarded disability.”

Mom: “Then tell me when his hearing date is!”

Me: “I am not allowed to.”

Mom: “Then he ain’t going, and f*** y’all!”

Me: “Ma’am, there’s no need for that language. I’m doing what was requested of me by your son. Until I get permission from him, I cannot say anything further than that he has a case with us. Okay?”

Mom: “Even if I’m the one helping him.”

Me: “Yes. Even if you’re the one helping him. Let me ask you something, though. You’re so angry about us not giving you information, and I get that. Would you really restrict your own son from possibly getting disability by refusing to take him to his hearing, all because you’re angry at us?”

(She hung up when I asked her that and had her son call us an hour later. I heard her word for word tell him to say, “[Mom] is allowed to know about my case. You are allowed to speak with her. I didn’t mean you couldn’t talk to her when I called, and you were wrong for not telling her anything.” I have a feeling he’s going to move again if he does get awarded.)

They Are Legally Dead

, , , , | Legal | July 13, 2018

(One of my bosses goes to a hearing where the client fails to show up. The particular cases we deal with are not criminal and don’t involve much attorney-client contact outside of the initial interview and the much-later hearing, so it’s not uncommon for clients to disappear in the interim, failing to return calls or changing their address without notifying us. This time it is unusual, however, because it turns out that the client has died.)

Boss: *agitated* “I really wish she would have called to say she didn’t want the hearing anymore.”

Me: “She died.”

Boss: “Well, she should have called to tell me she was dead!” *storms off*

(He later apologized and dealt with the ensuing paperwork more rationally, but at the time, I was torn between laughing and being appalled.)

The Law Is Here To Clean Up The Streets

, , , | | Legal | June 17, 2018

(I’m a new legal assistant in a district attorney’s office, and have only recently moved to the state, so I haven’t had contact with many locals. The phone rings:)

Me: “District Attorney’s office. This is [My Name]. Can I help you?”

(I write down the caller ID’s phone number and displayed name.)

Defendant: “I need to speak to the district attorney.”

Me: “He’s not in right now. Can I take a message?”

Defendant: “Why the f*** would I want you to take a f****** message?! I want to speak to the f****** district attorney! I don’t want to leave another f****** message!” *lather, rinse, repeat in variations*

Me: *in every pause he makes* “Sir… Sir… Sir… Sir…”

(I hold the phone away from my ear, so the other legal assistant can hear, too, and look over at her.)

Coworker: “That’s [Defendant]. Just hang up. He’s the guy who lives in the abandoned hotel in [Tiny Town] and who the [Small Town] librarian had to kick out because he was trying to bathe in the library bathroom sink, and left the bathroom so filthy you wouldn’t believe it. And just wait until you see him in court!”

Me: “I’m afraid to ask what he’s done in court.”

Coworker: “He’ll take off his shoe and sock, and the bandages, and show the judge his amputated toes.”

Me: “You can’t make this s**t up.”

(THIS time, he claimed to have MRSA!)