So, I am a firm believer that when you meet someone and strike up a conversation, either in person or on the phone, it is a good idea to know who you are talking to. This is why when you meet someone, you generally introduce yourself and ask the other person’s name. Simple right? “Hi, my name is Jim, what’s your name?”
Sure there are times when it doesn’t matter who you are talking to, like when you need to ask, “Excuse me sir, do you know what time it is?” Does it really matter who the person is who tells you the time?
But, what truly bothers me is when someone seemingly doesn’t want you to know who they are, regardless of the situation. It makes me wonder why they are being so secretive. I’ll give you two examples.
First, I was calling a store (a well known national chain superstore) to speak with a member of the asset management team regarding a stolen gift card. As an attorney, I like to keep records of these conversations and who I spoke to, for obvious reasons. When I called, the voice on the other end answered, “Thank you for calling *******, how can I help you?” I responded as I normally do, “Good afternoon, my name is Jim, may I ask who I am speaking to?” Her response…. “The woman who answered the phone, now how can I help you?” I wish I was kidding.
The other example concerned me even more, because I had called the offices of a local Bar Organization, which you would assume was staffed by courteous competent individuals. I was simply trying to update my membership information but, being an attorney and calling a group that provides service for attorneys, I like to try and build relationships there. So, the voice answered, “******** ***** Bar Association, how can I direct your call?” As usual, I responded, “Good afternoon, my name is Jim, may I ask who I am speaking to?” This person wasn’t quite as rude, but simply responded, “How may I direct your call?” Confused, I said “I’m sorry, I was just asking your name so I would know who I was speaking with.” Her response, “OK, how may I direct your call?” I asked, “Are you not going to tell me your name?” She said “NO.” I was stunned. She said that they didn’t give out that information to the public. But, she did at least know how to connect me to the membership department.
So, having established my irritation with those who prefer to remain nameless, you can imagine the questions I have when I see websites and blog-sites advertising legal services, but fail to identify the law firm the site is advertising for. When you are injured and are seeking help, its not like you are simply asking someone for the time and don’t care who they are. When you need an attorney, you want, no you need to develop a personal relationship with them so they can understand your situation and know how to help you. What does it say about someone who just throws out some legal buzzwords, claims to be a highly experienced lawyer, and puts their phone number down on a free website with hopes that you call them?
Even if you don’t call the number listed to ask for someone to represent you, should you trust the information that a legal website is providing when the site doesn’t even provide basic information as to the credentials of the attorney (or non-attorney) who is writing the content?
Legal troubles are serious and they require honest, forthcoming professionals to steer their clients through the murky issues that arise during the course of a case. That relationship should start with trust, on both sides. As an attorney, I wouldn’t take a case from a client who called me and gave me a good story but who wouldn’t give me his name during the initial consultation. As a potential client, I would think that you wouldn’t want to hire a lawyer who took the time to create an attractive website to draw you in, but who forced you to call him just to ask for his name. You never know, if you did call and ask for his name, he might just say “I’m the guy who answered the phone, now how can I help you?”