Dear Harry: Last summer, I ate some pork sausage that I bought at a supermarket. It made me terribly ill. I called 9-1-1, and a very helpful crew took me to the hospital. They kept me for four days to get rid of the bug, and now I'm OK (I think). I then contacted a lawyer to sue the store for my costs and pain and suffering. She made me sign a contract with her for a fee of 40 percent of anything I got. Since then I have heard from her only once. Every time I call, I'm told she's out of her office or in court. The calls are never returned. I'm an 85-year-old widow living on Social Security, and it's very hard for me to get around because I have arthritis. There has to be some way I can get in touch with her to find out how things are going with my case. I'm also afraid that I might not last long enough to see any money.
What Harry says: Over many years, the most frequent complaint that I hear about lawyers is that they fail to return phone calls. One of the most effective ways to get a response is to contact the Philadelphia Bar Association (215-238-6300). They can nudge a lawyer into a response. Another way is to try to find her home phone number and try to reach her there at dinnertime or at 7:30 in the morning. Finally - and you may not be up to doing this because of your arthritis: Get to her office before 9 a.m., walk right in and sit on her desk until she shows up.