There are many reasons why a lawyer or attorney is unlikely to take your case. However, I am going to focus on the three most common reasons for purposes of this post. The last one is something that most attorneys will never admit, but it is absolutely true.
1. Not Enough Money Is Involved
The vast majority of potential cases that I receive (and I believe most attorneys receive) are Plaintiff’s cases. This means that the prospective client wants to sue someone else. They usually ask for a contingency fee arrangement, which means that the attorney will agree to defer his/her fees for a percentage of whatever is recovered in the case. Because of the uncertainty of this arrangement, a lawyer is unlikely to take on cases where small damages are involved. What is a small case? I would say that a case where the possible damages are less than $100,000 is not worth it from the point of view of most Plaintiff’s attorneys, at least here in Los Angeles. But every attorney is different, so you never know.
2. Lack of Liability
Liability essentially means whether the person or entity you would like to sue is responsible for what you are saying they did or what you believe they failed to do. Typically when a client comes to me for a consultation I can tell within 2 minutes whether they have a case or not. In many situations, there is a major problem with the case from a liability standpoint. It could be the that the statute of limitations has run or something else. In those kinds of circumstances, an attorney is unlikely to take your case and there is nothing you can really do about it.
3. The "X" Factor
I call it the "X" factor because there is no other way to describe it. It’s the same reason why you’re friends with certain people and why you are not with others. The bottom line is that a lawyer has to feel comfortable with a client. If the client seems mentally unbalanced or particularly high-maintenance, I I will not take the case no matter how good the case might be. And I know other attorneys feel the same way because they’ve told me so.
Trying to get advice from an attorney for free. This is a big one. Lawyers generally are very busy and they get paid by the hour. Many of my colleagues have complained to me that many potential clients call them up merely to try to squeeze some information out of them. While I don’t blame people for trying to get advice, I think they need to realize that attorneys should be compensated for the advice they give, which, is the product of an expensive education and years of experience. Do not call an attorney merely to seek free advice. Only call or contact an attorney–unless you are calling a legal aid society–if you are capable of paying for legal services.