I’m the attorney; not the babysitter

I had an opposing attorney call me this morning asking if my client’s plans had changed since yesterday.  When we confirmed her plans  the previous day I reminded her to let me, and the opposing party, know if her plans changed.  I hadn’t heard from her since,  so I told opposing counsel that her plans hadn’t changed.

He then asked me to confirm this again with my client.  I suggested his client contact my client if his client wanted confirmation.  He noted our clients don’t communicate well.  I suggested it’s time they learn.  He got offended that I wouldn’t take the time to make the phone calls to confirm what I’d already confirmed.

Typically, this isn’t just one phone call as it will involve me playing phone-tag with my client and then phone-tag with the opposing counsel.  Further, typically, the answer to one question leads to a follow up question–and more phone-tag.  Even if I could justify billing my client for this time [I can’t] I went into law because it’s a dignified profession and there’s nothing dignified about getting involved in petty squabbles between clients who won’t communicate with each other.  Yet opposing attorneys, especially inexperienced ones, frequently ask me to get involved in such matters.  They appear to see nothing “off” about injecting themselves into logistical issues that mature adults should be able to resolve without our involvement

I suggested to opposing counsel that I am not my client’s babysitter, I am her attorney.  At that point he shot off a letter to the judge, complaining about my behavior, as though we were two nursery school students and he was tattling to teacher.  We then received a conference call from the judge who, thankfully, fully appreciated my position.

So maybe I’m not the babysitter.  Maybe we’re the babies.  Such, perhaps, is the culture of family court.  No wonder so many other attorneys try to avoid it.


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