What would you do if you were stationed in a foreign country and needed an attorney for an uncontested divorce? An article in Stars And Stripes, a U.S. military newspaper, described the adventures of Daniel Wise with his German attorney.
Wise chose an attorney from an advertisement in the newspaper. The ad said she had expertise in divorce. He sent her half of the fee, and after sending her all requested documents he heard nothing more. He called and emailed her office more than a dozen times with no response.
In desperation, he wrote to Stars And Stripes and contacted the legal office of the First Armored division. A legal advisor finally spoke to the attorney who maintained she had filed the case in June. But the courthouse verified that the paperwork was filed August 14, the day she contacted Wise.
I'm dismayed at her explanation that it was not unusual for lawyers to go three or more months without contacting their clients. I can't accept this answer. Attorneys have a duty to respond to their client inquiries in a timely manner. It is also proper to write and explain the procedure and time frame once initial action is taken.
She wrote Wise that if he did not stop the newspaper article she would "drop down the case." She alleged that she now had a court date. Wise selected another attorney from an army list of English-speaking lawyers. Under German law he doesn't get back any of his money and had to pay another attorney $1,270 to start all over again.
Some of the errors Wise made:
- Selecting an attorney from a newspaper ad. Get recommendations from others.
- After three phone calls, he should have appeared at the attorney's office.
- He didn't ask new attorney if all paper work had to be redone.
- He should've allowed the lady attorney to complete the case since she now had a date.
I'd recommend that Wise should file a complaint with the German Bar Association.