The legal market is very competitive. According to recent statistics from the law society, there were about 4,900 lawyers in Singapore and 863 law firms in this tiny city state. This means that law firms do whatever they can to survive and stand out from the pack, which in turn translates to providing better service to increase referral rates, spend more on marketing their firms to increase exposure and awareness, and taking on more cases to increase revenue.
A lawyer refusing to take on a case might happen from time to time. It might be uncommon but it does happen. Here are a few reasons why :
- You don’t have a case
This is pretty straightforward. Lawyers are busy people and their time is precious. Sometimes clients go to lawyer’s offices to get legal advice on a matter they deem is serious. They might want to sue someone or get money or assets. If the legal situation is legitimate and there is an actual case to pursue, the lawyer might have little problem taking it on.
The problem is sometimes people visit lawyers with a situation that is not as serious as they might think. For example, some people immediately jump into hiring a lawyer when they want to get their visa or employment passes to work in Singapore. More often than not, what they are actually looking for can be easily found on MOM’s website.
Hiring a lawyer is not cheap, and while lawyers want to take on cases, it might not be necessary for that situation.
- Conflict of interest
Conflict of interest happens when for example, the lawyer you want to hire has already been hired by your spouse in a divorce scenario. I.e that lawyer is acting for and defending your spouse. Obviously, a lawyer cannot be acting for both parties in a divorce as that would be contradicting.
Another scenario might be a lawyer who has acted regularly for someone or an organization. If you approach them saying you want to take legal action against that person or company, the lawyer might not want to take on your case simply because they have been working with those parties previously. It’s like asking them to take legal action against their own loyal customers, which is not something they will want to do.
- They don’t specialise in that area
Law is a very broad area, and lawyers often specialise in some of them. E.g family law, civil law, criminal law. If you approach a criminal lawyer with a divorce case, it could be out of their scope.
Surely they can recommend you to a lawyer who is specialized in divorces. But before you approach a lawyer, it is good practice to ask if they have taken on cases similar to yours. A law firm which consists of a few lawyers might have different partners (lawyers) specialize in different areas.
- Switching too many lawyers
When a person has gone through a number of lawyers in a short period, it could mean the problem lies with them, not the lawyer. They could be too demanding or too picky. This is a red flag for a lawyer because a client who has switched between many lawyers previously is a sign of an underlying issue that has not been addressed.
- They simply don’t have time
As mentioned previously, lawyers are extremely busy people. They may be working on a number of cases at any given time, and it could mean they do not have the energy and time to devote to your case. Good lawyers will be honest and tell you that they can’t help you as they are already swamped with cases, and will recommend another lawyer in or outside of their law firm to help you out.