There is a bad practice in many law firms where the "rainmaker" lawyer (usually the oldest lawyer in the group) brings in most of the business but has young associates, fresh out of law school, do most of the work on the client files.This can be very offensive to clients.
I learned this by way of analogy some 30 years ago, when I was 25 years old and I went for my six month check up to Dr. Mark Smith, DDS, my dentist.
The front door had his name on it, and looked exactly the same.
Thus, when the hygienist came in and told me that Dr. Robert Steinberg would be seeing me shortly, I asked her the only logical question I could think of: who the hell is Dr. Robert Steinberg?
When she told me that he had purchased Dr. Smith's's dental practice five months earlier, I was stunned that they did not give me the courtesy of notifying me that Dr. Smith was no longer my dentist, and that they expected me to passively transition to Dr. Steinberg.
I stormed out, never to return.
Similarly, after spending an hour and a half with a potential new client this morning, I got the feeling that she feels, rightly or wrongly, that something somewhat analogous to my experience with Dr. Smith is what is happening with her present NJ lawyer's office.
In particular, she feels that his staff has intentionally insulated the divorce lawyer from her, and while she has tremendous confidence in the NJ Divorce Attorney she hired, she does not have this high level of confidence in his associates.
She feels extremely frustrated that she can never get in touch with the lawyer that she hired to personally discuss issues that are of concern to her, and that she always is directed to people who she feels are less than competent to handle the particular task at hand.
She really does not want to change lawyers if she does not have to, but she also does not want to have these young associates working on her file when she hired the "main lawyer" in the firm.
With her permission, I contacted her present attorney and I asked, "Is there a way to salvage your relationship with her?"
I gently pointed out to him that maybe if he could offer a way for her to have more direct access to him, that will ease her mind, and the relationship could be repaired.
He is thinking about it.
When a new client comes to me, I feel privileged to be able to serve that person. I invariably look at the red New Jersey Lawyers diary sitting on the left of my desk, and I comment to myself silently how honored I am that this person, who has approximately 92,000 other New Jersey lawyers to choose from, is sitting in front of me and trusting me with his or her case -- and in divorce cases, people often see that as trusting the lawyer with the balance of their life or their future.
This is certainly the highest compliment that this prospective client can pay to me, and my response is to always give 110% of my personal effort to that person.