Part 5: What Can the Lawyer Really Do?
They can leap tall buildings at a single bound. They’re more powerful than a locomotive. While they are not superheroes and not magicians, there are things they can do (or are perceived as being able to do) that can effect legal collection when others can’t. If one looks at the collection process as a series of increasing pressure points (in-house reminders, in-house calls, agency calls, agency letters, lawyers letters, lawyers calls, etc.), one can see how placement with a lawyer is a logical step in the process.
For starters, they can threaten to sue. An agency can threaten to place the claim with a lawyer to sue, but only a lawyer (or the client) can threaten to sue. Not that the threat carries that much clout, but it does raise the pain level. Just having a lawyer call the debtor might help. Having a local lawyer down the street or in the next town might help more. A letter outlining the creditor’s response to prior disputed issues might show the debtor the creditor is serious and wants to take this to the “next level.” There are no limits to what one can imagine a lawyer could do to raise the stakes.
Lawyers can do a review of public records, case histories and their own experience, to assess a likelihood of collection, even if there is a successful lawsuit that results in a court judgment.
Of course, what lawyers are best known for is suing. But since most collection accounts are placed on contingent fee, creditors rights lawyers generally don’t want to sue unless they really see it as helping. Lawsuits require more time and money than a payment plan or a cash settlement.
Lawyers are also very helpful in analyzing legal issues and disputes to help client decide how hard or far to push an account. Sometimes there are defenses that might hold water. Sometimes there are analyses of the positions of other creditors that will bear on a go or no-go decision on a settlement. While agency personnel are very well trained and experienced in these areas, many rely on the lawyers in the field to help them fashion recommendations on tough claims.
And, of course, lawyers can actually go to court. Filing suit papers is one thing, but actually showing up for a Motion for Summary Judgment or a deposition or trial is quite another. For that, one needs an experienced, capable lawyer.