Q: I've had the same lawyer for a large portion of my working life. She's always done a great job handling my legal concerns, and I've never had any complaints until recently.
Over the years, we've talked about a slew of topics, including our attitudes about retirement. She's always joked that she'll never retire. She's in her early 70s, and I'm just a few years older — but we're both still working.
Even though I don't look forward to retirement for myself, I'm concerned that my lawyer isn't doing as good a job as before.
Am I being a hypocrite?
A: Ask yourself whether your suspicion is rooted in facts or in prejudice.
Ageism is a complicated subject, as time affects us all differently. Judge your lawyer based on her own merits instead of labels.
There are other reasons why your lawyer may not be meeting your needs. Workload, personal life and health issues can affect the work quality of people of all ages.
Is your lawyer able to respond to your legal concerns in a timely fashion? Does she remember your scheduled meetings, and is she able to locate your required documents? Has there been a problem with follow-through? Is the payment system functioning?
Communication is key in all relationships, whether business or personal — things become more complicated when your relationship is somewhere in between. Before severing your relationship, make sure that you are communicating what you want to your lawyer.
When you have a request, make sure that your lawyer is aware of your timeline. Don't hesitate to communicate when something is urgent.
At the end of the day, what matters is whether you can get what you need. If not, you should look for new representation. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Q: Two years ago, I was frustrated with my housecleaning service. They tended to set or change our appointments, working on their own schedule, and didn't always get the job done. The last straw was when one of them chipped a vase and didn't tell me about it.
I ended up canceling the service and cleaning my own home, but I can no longer keep up with my own mess.
How can I find someone new?
A: There are two main ways to find a new cleaning service, both with advantages and disadvantages. You can either ask your acquaintances for recommendations or look online.
Before doing your research, figure out your parameters: your budget and how often you want your home cleaned.
The more predictable option is to ask your neighbors for suggestions. The major downsides are that it's difficult to extricate yourself from the working relationship should it sour and you'll have less privacy (people like to talk).
The second option is to use a website with online reviews such as Yelp, which comes with different risks.
Having too many options can make it hard to find what you're looking for. Your first step is to rule out some options.
Many online cleaning services may be more expensive and for less frequent cleanings. A carpet-steaming service may be listed under home cleaning but is probably not what you're looking for on a regular basis.
Look for businesses with a high average rating, preferably above four stars.
For the pared-down list, look at the quality of reviews. Check the number and the date of reviews to contextualize the information.
Set the review setting so that you can view the lowest reviews; this way, you'll know of potential problems. How the business responds to complaints is also illuminating. Rule out any businesses whose reviews mention theft or dishonesty. If timeliness is a concern, you can rule out more options.
Before hiring a service, call and ask them some detailed questions. You may want to ask who will provide the cleaning materials (especially if you have strong preferences) and whether they will follow your instructions for special items (like antiques). Another question is whether or not they clean windows, as this is not always included.
Good luck searching! Be patient with the process until you find a satisfactory solution. — Doug
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.