In an article in the CLLA April/May/June magazine, Timothy Wan wrote, “As an attorney, I pride myself on being meaningfully involved in the cases that I champion for my clients. One of the most basic things is adequately reviewing documentation.” He then went on to share his experience with a case where the opposing counsel clearly had not read or digested the relevant documentation and was unprepared to defend the case. He was not “meaningfully involved.”
Regardless of whether you are the attorney or the client, many problems can be prevented by providing and/or being thoroughly familiar with relevant documentation, and by making sure that you are prompt in responding to any form of communication.
Lack of Documentation
More and more regulations are being passed regarding the specific documentation need to either begin debt collections or to take a case to court. Be informed on what you need to provide or can expect the other side to provide. Then become thoroughly familiar with the documentation before you have an attorney/client meeting or appear in court.
Lack of Communication
The most frequent complaints The National List receives are due to a lack of communication. Many complaints stem from lawyers or clients not responding to phone calls, emails or letters. Most complaints involve clients requesting our assistance in obtaining a status report on open files. In these instances, we contact the law firm and request that they promptly send a report to the client, also asking them to cc: NL so we know when we can close this complaint. Communication problems can go both ways. We follow up until we have confirmation that communication has been restored.
We all have a certain level of expectation for how and when we “think” people should communicate with us. A recent NL blog post entitled “Have you mastered The Art of Professional Communication?” gave tips on how to communicate professionally.
Consider what’s appropriate
We now have so many ways to show that we are meaningfully involved in a particular case or relationship. It’s easy to get into habits that are okay when we’re Tweeting or Texting or Emailing a friend, but they can get us into trouble when we’re sending a communication that needs to come across as professional, especially when we’re writing an email or using the telephone. Our communication should be prompt and appropriate for both the person and the circumstances.
Failure to Remit
Another complaint taken very seriously by NL is a lawyer who does not remit by the required deadline. Most clients require law firms to remit any monies collected every 30 days. Some clients require law firms to remit weekly and some even require law firms to remit daily! It is important to detail remitting requirements in your legal forwarding agreement. In most cases, these incidents are an oversight or a misunderstanding—more proof that being “meaningfully involved” could have prevented the problem.
Make sure NL is your first line of defense
Staying meaningfully involved can create and sustain successful, ongoing relationships. When a breakdown in communication or other seemingly unresolvable matters do arise, The National List facilitates communication between our clients and our collection attorney members. We work with both parties to come to a satisfactory agreement. In those cases, NL can and should be your first line of defense. Be sure to let us know when your contact information changes so we can continue to serve you! Our personalized customer service sets us apart from other referral organizations.
By Marti Lythgoe, NL Editor