Prospective clients call me all the time and the first thing out of their collective mouths is often “Can I speak to a lawyer?” or “Are you a lawyer?”

In my case, despite the fact that during the pandemic I don’t exactly “look like a lawyer” most of the time, I can answer those questions with a resounding “yes.”  This is not true for every law office.

People or their loved ones injured in a crash, hurt at work, injured by medical negligence, or fighting with an insurance company often have no idea what to say, who to talk to, or even whether they have a viable case. 

They just want someone to listen to them, understand what they are saying, and, hopefully, help them.

My Job is to Listen

Law school allegedly trains lawyers to think on our feet and apply the law to a set of facts.  In my case, it caused me to break into a cold sweat whenever the professor called my name, but that’s another story.  One thing law school does not really train lawyers to do is to be counselors.  Law school does not really train lawyers how to listen, to empathize, or how to look at problems from the perspective of the prospective client.

Many people call lawyers and talk to a remote answering service staffed by non-lawyers.  Eventually, if these systems are set up properly, they will be routed to a lawyer.  But it is that immediate contact that will not be equipped to provide any explanation, any roadmap, or even the reassurance of a caring person listening to their problems. 

For many people who are already in distress or pain, this clinical intake can be off-putting or cause more anxiety.

There are many lawyers out there handling the types of matters I do.  One important way I can differentiate myself is in the service I provide to my clients and to those who are not yet my clients. 

I take all calls myself. 

I answer every email and text myself.

You’re In Good Hands

Those looking for irony in me, a plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer using the long-time slogan of a national insurer I do not exactly hold in high esteem, have found it in the above subheading. (The fact that I spent five summers in college and part of law school as a custodian in Allstate’s national headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois just adds to the back story).

What I try to do when I pick up the phone is understand what the person’s problem might be, explain to them whether I can help them and why, or find them someone else who can.  Even when the caller is in another state in which I do not practice.  Even when the caller is calling about an area I do not handle.  Even when the caller has no legal issue and is just complaining about his or her lot in life.  I never hang up.  I ask questions.  I explain as much as I can. 

Many have told me I was like a virtual hug.  Even if I couldn’t help them, I listened to them, gave them some explanation, and treated them respectfully.

The Value of Human Contact as a First Responder

It sure seems old fashioned to pick up the phone and use it as a phone.  Okay, boomer.Believe it or not, many people searching for a lawyer find one by searching online and then calling them.  Sure, there are ways to reach out via email, chat, or email, but the vast majority of prospective clients call lawyers.

When an injured person or their loved one calls a lawyer, they want immediate answers.  They want to be taken seriously.  They want to know if “there’s a law against that” or if there’s anyone they can sue. 

Like I said earlier, we don’t often know the answers to these questions in the initial contact.  But I do try to give as many answers and reassurances as I can.  This can really bring down the stress level.  It also builds rapport and trust both ways. 

Trust is the backbone of the attorney-client relationship. Lawyers and clients have to have a mutual trust in one another, the same as doctors and patients. Building that trust can, and should, start in the very first phone call. The legal process can be long and stressful. While you naturally want a lawyer who is skilled, don’t underestimate the importance of working with someone you trust and are comfortable with.

Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman

As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.

If you’ve been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front, and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.