Sometimes Lawyers cannot rely on other lawyers to complete legal work | Media Pyro

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the skeptical interviewer looking at intervieweeIf you want it done well, do it yourself. That’s the old saying. This means that it is sometimes difficult for people to trust that other people will get things done the way they do. Lawyers, in fact, must rely on other lawyers when they work in the same firm, or to work for the same client when they work in different shops. However, attorneys should be careful about trusting other attorneys, and they should also check the performance of all attorneys they work with on a project.

Many times in my career, I have wanted to rely on the work of another attorney, and it has led to dire consequences for me. For example, before I worked, I was a regional consultant for a client who lived in another part of the country. This client’s work was handled by external consultants located near the client’s headquarters. I think that since an outside attorney does a lot of work for a client, they are very knowledgeable in handling that client’s legal issues.

Right before I sent the papers for the client, I decided to go through the corporate records to see if the client was named correctly on the papers. To my surprise, the client’s outside counsel used the wrong phrase. Of course, the correct name of the client was wrong! Perhaps even more important, how this advisor describes the client as a successor in interest is not correct. Maybe in other jurisdictions this would work, but in the jurisdiction I work for, misnaming the client is a big deal and can cause technical issues down the road.

Sometimes, lawyers can’t rely on other advisors because the situation is different in different parts of the country, lawyers need to be alert for papers. For example, I once handled a case as local counsel for a firm in a different part of the country. The district attorney told me that they would write a motion and arrange for me on a good bond. I was very happy about this as I am busy and I could use the help from this advice to complete the work for our mutual client.

It’s very close to the deadline, I open the document containing the motion and realize that there is a lot to do. Some of the reasons seem to be related to the fact that things vary from one jurisdiction to another, while other reasons are based on common misconceptions. I mistakenly thought that I could trust these other attorneys more than I could, and that I had to work hard under pressure to get the job done on time.

Sometimes, you can’t trust the lawyers who work in the same industry as you. Lawyers, like everyone else, should not have the same authority over cases that are not theirs, or lawyers who do not care enough about you to defend a legal matter. For example, one time, another friend at a firm where I worked went to a court hearing about one of my cases because I was a litigator, and the court hearing was pretty normal. The case sat for several years due to bankruptcy, so in previous meetings, the parties simply said the case would stay and the meeting ended. The colleague told me when he got back to the office that the case was with the bank, which is what I expected to happen at the meeting. I then told the client that the case is still pending and that there may be no further action on this matter for a while.

However, I learned a few weeks later that the case was not pending and this was sent to the meeting. Apparently, the partner who attended the court meeting had just checked with the clerk, found that the case was still pending, and then the partner left. The friend didn’t stay long at the meeting to see the other attorneys on the case and learn about the latest information on the case. Therefore, I had to tell the client that the case did not exist, which caused a problem between the client and our firm. If I had called one of the attorneys on the case, instead of relying on a friend who attended the court hearing on my behalf, I would have avoided several issues.

That being said, there are situations where you can rely on other attorneys to complete the legal work that is best for you. But for many reasons, attorneys should not rely on other attorneys and should always check the work of another attorney.


Rothman Big HeadJordan Rothman is the partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student loan books, a website that discusses how he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan by email at [email protected].

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