Any matter in litigation is emotionally charged for the people involved in it. It’s important to find a lawyer who cares and is responsive, but it’s also important as a client to recognize that your lawyer is a person. Your lawyer could get sick, hurt, or be in trial. If your lawyer does not respond to you within 24 hours, that’s likely not unreasonable. They absolutely should respond to you within a couple of days. If they don’t, make sure you try to remind them that they forgot to return your call/email, etc. If your lawyer still doesn’t return your call, I’d advise emailing, so that they have a more tangible record of your call. If you email or even write them a letter, then you have proof that you asked for help and they didn’t respond. If your lawyer still doesn’t respond, try to make an appointment with them. A lot of times just having time to talk to your attorney face to face will not only make you feel better, but will also give you an opportunity to have your questions answered.
Even if you are frustrated, if you want a fast response from your lawyer, then please treat them with courtesy. This will cause them to bump you closer to the front of their call-back list. If you yell at them, you may very well go to the bottom of their “to call” pile. That goes for law firm staff too—the lawyer isn’t going to like it if you harass their staff. Calling every hour isn’t typically helpful because it won’t change things, and the office may charge you per call. I’d say industry standard is for it to take about 2 days (if it’s not an emergency) for a lawyer to call you back. If you get your call back or response within this amount of time, it’s absolutely reasonable. If not, you may want to inquire with the staff what is going on with the attorney. Are they in trial? Are they sick? If not, then politely request an urgent call back as soon as possible.
If that still doesn’t work, and you just can’t contact your Attorney, it’s time to get a new Attorney that is more responsive to your requests. I’d let the lawyer know that if you aren’t going to get a timely response to your urgent questions, you will need a refund of your retainer so that you are able to hire a new attorney. That will at least get your lawyer’s attention, and if it doesn’t then it’s just time for a new lawyer.