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What Do You Think Law School Is For?!

, , , , , | Legal | April 29, 2021

I’m a lawyer working at a law office. One day, a group of four people enters the office and sits on the couches in the waiting area. There are clear signs at the door that, because of the health crisis, all appointments must be reserved by email or phone before coming to the offices and that the number of people attending any meeting is limited to two.

A secretary goes to greet the customers and inquire about the purpose of their visit. After a while, she comes to my room.

Secretary: “They say they have an appointment here to close a long-negotiated issue, but I can’t find any appointments under their name. Could you please double-check with me?”

We look through our appointment system and all the lawyer’s calendars but can’t find anything with the name they provided. I go and talk to the customers to get more info. Their matter is in the field of law that we operate in, so I start to fear that we have messed something up. Their issue would require a lot of preliminary work and there is absolutely no way to make the documents here and now. I go and check all our systems again, but nothing comes up — no files, no billing information, nothing. I brace myself and go talk to the customers. I talk to a middle-aged woman who seems to be the most agitated.

Me: “I apologize, but there must be some kind of a mix-up. There are no records of your case in our files. Are you sure you are at the right law office?”

Woman: “Yes. Look, here is the text message invitation to the meeting.”

She shows me a text on her phone. It is the right time and our address.

Me: “Yes that is our address. Who is this [Man] who sent this message to you?”

Woman: “He is my cousin. He made the appointment with you and sent the time and place to the rest of us. He will be here any moment. [Man] knows how to handle things. [Man] will clear things up.”

We wait a few minutes and [Man] comes through the door.

Woman: “[Man]! Thank God! This lawyer says he can’t find any of our documents.”

Me: “Yes, sir, that is true. I’m sorry but there seems to be no record of your case in our system.”

Man: “Of course there isn’t. I looked at the pricing on your website and frankly, it is ridiculous. Your fees are way too high. It was a simple matter to draft the documents myself, so I did.”

He has a smug look on his face. I am totally confused.

Me: “So… why are you here now?”

Man: “We are here to make some minor changes, like the date and the names of the witnesses, to the documents, and then sign them. We require a room for an hour or two at most, a printer, and two of your lawyers to bear witness to our signatures.”

I am having a hard time believing what I’m hearing.

Me: “You didn’t contact us at all before coming in and inviting a bunch of your relatives to our office?”

Man: “No, why should I have? It will take you no more than five minutes to act as witnesses and according to the hourly fees on your website—”

I cut him off.

Me: “So, let me get this straight. You have some self-made legal documents. You expect us to just drop everything we are doing, give you a room and a printer, and sign our names and our company’s name to some random papers we’ve never seen?!”

Man: “Well, I …”

Me: “Firstly, I never sign any papers without thoroughly going through them, nor does any other lawyer that I know of. Secondly, most lawyers will never witness any documents that are made by a layman, as the lawyer’s signature at the end of the document gives most people the impression that the lawyer has made said documents. And thirdly, I don’t think there is a company on earth that will give the use of their rooms and office equipment to strangers who just barge into their office.”

Man: “This is your field of law and—”

Me: “I am completely amazed that anyone would think they can act this way. Please leave.”

The man started to argue but his relatives pushed him out, apologizing profusely. The secretary and I just stared at each other in disbelief.

I got a call maybe two weeks later from the woman customer and she apologized again. I told her it was no trouble and asked how their legal issue was doing. They had gotten a great lawyer, who looked through [Man]’s papers. After a week of correcting for [Man]’s mistakes, the documents were ready. They had signed them at the lawyer’s office, and that time, they had had an actual appointment. [Man] had been very quiet during the meeting.