Tuesday Tips is a series of articles from local experts to help you save money, make better decisions and plan for a better future.

You might have done a double take on the title of the column, as I did an inner double take when I decided to write it.

I write to you after spending four hours in Bankruptcy Court in Long Island this morning. I’ve been to Bankruptcy Court countless times with my clients. It’s quite difficult to sit there and wait while client after client goes forth and occassionally stammers through answers. There are several lawyers that I know by face. Lawyers that are there each day. Lawyers that sit there for hours waiting for their case to be called. The same is true for lawyers dealing with your personal injury cases, or your real estate closings, or your worker’s comp claims. It doesn’t matter. The job is, at times, excruciatingly frustrating.

But its also, most of the time, amazingly rewarding. We are an industry. A profession. When people lose jobs at a clothing store, as an executive assistant, they are unsure if they’ll ever get their job back. We can land on our feet much easier in most circumstances. In my case, and in many others, we are a business in and of ourselves. We can, as the saying goes, “hang up a shingle.” If we sign up a few cases a month, we can generally be okay.

So why in the world am I saying this? Because, as I go to Court, more and more I see that sometimes the pressure gets to us. Sometimes lawyers lash out at their clients – grown men and women – like they are children. Lashing out at someone that has paid you thousands of dollars to get a job done isn’t just morally wrong to me, it’s bad business.

And so here’s my point: If your lawyer isn’t taking your calls, it’s an issue. If you’re lawyer isn’t responding to emails, that’s an issue. If, when you walk into a lawyer’s office, you feel as if they are doing you a favor by simply sitting there and answering questions while life-impacting issues hang in the balance, it’s an issue.

I say this because, in our neighborhood, there are just… so… many… lawyers.

Sheepshead Bay Road: sushi restaurants and lawyers. Kings Highway: pharmacies, restaurants and lawyers. Brighton Beach: bazaars, babushkas… and lawyers. There are too many of us around for you to ever be unhappy with your lawyer. If I don’t return a number of emails, you should fire me. If I’m making you feel horrible about yourself, you should fire me. If I can’t explain why something hasn’t been filed even though I told you it was, you should fire me.

There are an amazing number of great lawyers out there. Lawyers who, despite being somewhat jaded with the practice of law, are eager to help you, are pleasant to speak with, and know what they’re talking about. Find them. Do research online. Ask a friend. Check with the Bar Association. Do something.

After seeing what I see in Court, there are just too many instances of people who may or may not have given up some time ago. I am not saying they’re bad people, or that they need to stop practicing, or that they don’t know what they’re talking about. They could be legal geniuses for all I know. I just think that in this profession, people tend to overlook that there is competition everywhere.

If you go to a restaurant and order food and the waitress is rude and the food is bad, you’re probably not going to go back there. It should be no different with a lawyer.

Daniel Gershburg Esq., is a real estate and bankruptcy attorney with offices in Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan. The practice was specifically set up to change the way people view attorneys, by incorporating radical ideas like calling people back quickly, returning emails, giving clients ’round the clock access to their cases and charging low fees. For more information please visit Brooklyn Real Estate Attorney Daniel Gershburg‘s website.

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    Tom Paxton was right. There are at least one million lawyers. Maybe two million.

    Some lawyers think that curmudgeonly style inspires confidence. (They told me) I just think that they need some therapy.

  • Andy

    the first thing a lawyer asks for before he/she takes a case is a retainer which is almost impossible to recover if you do want to fire the lawyer later on.

    • Daniel Gershburg

      Not true. We’re required to show you an invoice for work performed and it can NEVER be nonrefundable

      • Andy

        I am aware that an invoice is required, however, how can someone truly verify the number of hours an attorney spends working on a specific case?