What kind of attorney are you if your word means nothing? Unfortunately, it appears as though the public perception is that attorneys’ actions speak louder than their word. Apparently, many attorneys have helped foster this perception.
One example is a "letter of protection." Basically, when a client is injured in a car wreck and goes to a chiropractor or physician, the chiropractor or physician might accept a "letter of protection" from the attorney which essentially promises to pay the medical provider’s bill out of any settlement or verdict which is obtained. At the end of the case, we satisfy that bill for the client.
We just settled a claim a chiropractor had with our client. The case had been settled a while back, but we had to resolve the Medicaid lien and medical provider liens (the client didn’t have health insurance). It took a long time to get the case settled, and once settled, to get the amounts owed from some of the providers. We had written the chiropractor a letter of protection, and they called one day irate that they had not been paid. In fact, they hired an attorney to contact me as well, and I explained to her that we had not been paid yet due to the problems with the other liens.
We finally received the insurance funds, and we sent the chiropractor their money last week. I received a call today from the woman at their office who had called irate a few months ago. She couldn’t have been nicer. She thanked me profusely and explained that many attorneys don’t follow through on their letters of protection. I explained that my word is good, and it just took time. She thanked me again.
If I have to deal with her office again, they probably won’t question my word, but it’s sad that I am ever questioned in the first place. Why is that? Too many attorneys take their position lightly. We have a responsibility as officers of the court to keep our word. It is unfortunate that a few bad apples spoil the lot, but that is the nature of the beast.