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  • Christopher J. Fry, Esq.

Why do lawyers turn down cases?

If you ever had to look for an attorney to help you out with your legal troubles, you may have gotten a declination letter from one at some point. It happens a lot. In fact, lawyers turn down more cases than they accept. Don’t lose hope! Attorneys decline cases for lots of reasons, many of which have absolutely nothing to do with your chance of success.


An attorney may have declined your case because they did not see a financial benefit in pursuing it. Attorneys charge hundreds of dollars per hour (thousands in some parts of the country). If the dispute is over only a few thousand dollars, you might end up spending more in legal fees than you recover. A major consideration is if you can be reimbursed for those fees, which is often not the case. This can even be true in contingency situations (no fee unless you win). If it is a smaller case that is being contested, the best advice an attorney could give might be that it’s not worth the time and stress litigation will cost you.


Second, the attorney may not have time or resources to take on a case. We get busy. If we feel we don’t have the manpower to meet your needs, we do not want to sacrifice the quality of representation for the added business.


Third, the attorney may feel that it is not a good fit. Most legal matters last months to years. It is critical to form a positive working relationship with your attorney. It would be unwise to take on a client if it appears your personalities might conflict and negatively impact the case later on.


Lastly, an attorney might think your case does not have merit. In some circumstances (very few), the case is simply not likely to win. This can be for a variety of reasons that are unique to each case and even attorney. Quite often attorneys are not fully up to speed on every detail when it’s time to decide if they will take your case. They are simply going off the information they have. Be sure to have a good understanding of your case’s details when you contact an attorney’s office, and get multiple opinions before deciding to call it quits.


You deserve to have an attorney that can take your case and represent you zealously. Sometimes that doesn’t happen the first time around, but being declined isn’t always a bad thing. Moral of the story: Keep calling around.


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