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Client Scheduling

Scheduling is always a fun issue when it comes to my professional responsibilities. Typically, I’ll ask opposing counsel for when she is available to present her client for deposition…and I’ll get no response. I’ll ask again and the same thing happens. Finally, after having enough of the silent treatment, I’ll just schedule the damned deposition and let the other attorney fall all over herself rescheduling the damn thing. After this song and dance goes on for weeks on end, the deposition approaches and nine times out of ten, it gets rescheduled.

Most clients understand that scheduling is a fickle beast. But not all clients are this enlightened, especially when it comes to the scheduling of their deposition.

To: Client, Jane
From: Pamby, Namby
Subject: Deposition Scheduling

I hope that you are doing well. I just wanted to let you know that the other side has asked to reschedule your deposition due to a scheduling conflict that has recently occurred for their office. As your deposition was set for late next week, please let me know when you are available during the first two weeks of December. As always, I look forward to hearing from you and I want to apologize for this unplanned change.

Professional, apologetic and working towards a solution that makes life the least difficult for the client.

To: Pamby Lawyer, Esq.
From: Client, Jane
cc: Managing Partner, Other Partner, Named Partner
Subject: Re: Deposition Scheduling

I do not understand how this could continue to happen. This has been going on for two months now and it is the second time that the deposition was scheduled to occur and it DIDN’T HAPPEN. I don’t understand what you are doing as my attorney or why I have retained your firm in the first place. This case is taking entirely too long to conclude and you are not doing enough to bring about a resolution of it. I have given you my availability and I expect you to honor my scheduling needs. If you are unable to comply with this simple request, I will have no choice but to ask that your partners reassign you from this file…

What makes dealing with clients as persnickety as this one is that emails like these come after I’ve left the office. The latest one, like the above, tend to show up in my email inbox after I have left the office. And have made my way to a bar.

The above referenced email showed up after several beers and I started my drafting my response in the presence of my friends who helped add creative invective. I got only as far as “Go F*** yourself you big fat f***” when I realized that (a) this could cost me my job and (b) I wasn’t really able to expand upon the opening line. It’s at that point I texted my partner and asked for a partner-level response to this special situation.

And went back to drinking.

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About thenambypamby

Lawyer in Chicago. I blog, I tweet, I try to stay anonymous.

Discussion

5 thoughts on “Client Scheduling

  1. Ugh. This is an appropriately timed post for me. My phone is blowing up for two separate cases on which deposition scheduling is a problem. This has resulted in me being yelled at by opposing counsel (first thing in the morning, no less) and then having to appear on an emergency motion to compel tomorrow morning.

    Lawyer jobs are awesome.

    Posted by fabulouslyawkward | November 14, 2011, 2:12 pm
  2. Equally bad is the opposing counsel yelling at you for not “making your client reasonably available;” at least you can drop a crazy client.

    Posted by snarkyatlaw | November 14, 2011, 4:12 pm
  3. I just want to make sure I understand this. You sit with a client who gives you dates when they are available and you schedule a deposition at a time and place that is agreeable to all parties.

    Somewhere down the road that date and time becomes a conflict, so you reschedule.

    Your client has now rearranged their schedule twice to make the agreed upon date.

    Now you and the opposing counsel want to reschedule again, requiring the client to re-do their schedule again.

    And you expect the client to be happy with that?

    Weren’t you the one who wrote about the horrors of getting telephone and cable installed in your new residence when the installers did not keep or had to reschedule appointments?

    The problem is that when you as a lawyer want to reschedule, you simply move the time to an open spot in your calendar. For the client, it is not that easy. They have other things in their lives going on as well. Their “open spot” depends on other things around them, not just whether their calendar is clear.

    I realize that lawyers don’t mind rescheduling as a professional courtesy, but after the first time, the question has to be asked “who are you working for?” At what point in time do you say “sorry, this would be the third time we have rescheduled and that is not acceptable?”

    The fact of the matter is the rescheduling is not the fault of the client. It may not be your fault. But if others cannot keep an agreed upon schedule, that is their fault and they should pay the consequences – not the client.

    Posted by Lou C. Tiel | November 15, 2011, 11:01 am
  4. @Lou, What do you think happens after the “that is not acceptable” conversation? Unfortunately, the only consequence of attempting to force a deposition to go forward when opposing counsel has advised of unavailability is avoidable waste. If it’s the noticing attorney who keeps the depo on calendar as a matter of principle, he or she ends up paying the court reporter for the no-show and ultimately (given most law firm billing practices) billing the client for it. (I’ll preempt an assertion that the opposing lawyer should pay by saying it’s unlikely a judge will make that.) If it’s not the noticing attorney, as in NP’s case, and both attorney and client show up for the cancelled deposition, it’s just a waste of time.

    Things come up. Depos get rescheduled. It happens when you’re dealing with the schedules of, at minimum, three adults with full time jobs and other obligations. Nobody has to like it but we owe it to each other to be professional. Pulling the “who do you work for” card is counterproductive and does nothing but drive a wedge between attorney & client; quite honestly, if a client tried to pull that with me, I’d probably withdraw.

    Sorry for threadjacking Pamby.

    Posted by snarkyatlaw | November 17, 2011, 5:41 pm

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