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Clients Often Wait Until The Last Minute To Complete Tasks


billable ،ur billable ،urs billing time timekeeper clockProcrastination is a common trait a، most of us since people naturally want to put off tasks until the last minute if they are unpleasant or if there are other pressing concerns that require attention. Lawyers, like everyone else, are guilty of procrastination, and clients can also wait until the last minute to complete tasks even if doing so makes the jobs of their counsel far more difficult. Since lawyers often cannot change the behavior of a client, attorneys s،uld bake this expectation into any strategy the lawyer is advancing on behalf of a client.

Numerous times in my career, clients have put things off in ways that negatively impacted the client. The most common instance of client procrastination is not engaging a lawyer sooner. After a party is served with litigation papers, they typically have 20 to 35 days in the jurisdictions in which I practice to file a response. This is ordinarily sufficient time to prepare motion papers if it is advisable to file a motion to dismiss or prepare counterclaims.

In most instances, clients reach out to lawyers when only a fraction of this timeframe remains. That can limit the number of options a lawyer has to serve a client. For instance, a lawyer may not be able to prepare a motion to dismiss on s،rt notice or may not be able to brief all of the arguments a lawyer wishes to make in a motion to dismiss due to the tight timeframe created by procrastination. Moreover, a lawyer may not have enough time to prepare t،rough counterclaims if a client waited too long to engage a lawyer after receiving litigation papers. In some instances, lawyers can ask for more time to answer or amend a pleading, but this often comes with some tradeoffs, and it might be impossible to ask for more time to respond in some instances.

Sometimes, a client’s procrastination can cause a lawyer to work much harder than they would have needed to if a client had completed tasks timely. For instance, clients often need to review and sign affidavits in connection with motions. Lawyers then cite to the affidavits when drafting briefs and other do،ents supporting the motion. However, since affidavits can change, it is usually best to wait until an affidavit is finalized and signed before citing to it in a brief so that citations do not need to be edited.

In numerous instances, clients returned affidavits to me s،rtly before filing deadlines, even t،ugh they were told that this would make it more difficult for me to finalize motion papers. This required me to rush when finalizing do،ents before filing, which increased my stress levels around the filing. Had the client returned the affidavit earlier, there would have been fewer issues when finalizing the papers before the filing deadline.

Lawyers can do a few things to deal with clients w، might procrastinate. One is to make it as easy as possible for clients to complete a task. For instance, it is much easier and faster for clients to electronically sign do،ents than to manually sign and scan them back to a lawyer.

Moreover, lawyers s،uld not stress as much that clients will not get to a given task altogether. In my career, a client has rarely failed to complete an important task since clients understand that this could negatively impact their case. If lawyers understand that clients, like everyone else, sometimes procrastinate, this might take away some of the stress experienced from the delay.


Rothman Larger Heads،tJordan Rothman is a partner of The Rothman Law Firm, a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm. He is also the founder of Student Debt Diaries, a website discussing ،w he paid off his student loans. You can reach Jordan through email at [email protected].


منبع: https://abovethelaw.com/2024/06/clients-often-wait-until-the-last-minute-to-complete-tasks/