DEAR HARRIETTE: I have gone to the same lawyer for more than 10 years. Today, I find myself in a predicament where I need a specialist to help me with a problem that is beyond my lawyer’s expertise, but I feel like it’s almost like breaking up with a hairdresser. I asked my lawyer for a referral for a specialist, and he got offended and told me he could handle it. When I pressed him on the importance of finding an expert, he said he would find someone but charge me a fee for the referral. I don’t understand that. I have sent people to him over the years and never asked for a cut. Why should I give him a cut of something he cannot handle? -- Lawyer Trouble
DEAR LAWYER TROUBLE: It is true that a long-term relationship with an attorney can feel personal and intimate and, therefore, difficult to leave, even if only for a particular project. You should say as much to your attorney. Let him know how hard it was for you to come to the realization that you needed someone else for the legal challenge that you are facing.
In terms of paying a fee, that depends on how much work your lawyer did to identify this specialist for you. While some attorneys make referrals gratis, others do charge a fee if they vet the new lawyer, introduce him or her and oversee at least the early process to ensure that you are properly cared for. Evaluate what your attorney is doing for you before you complain. If you think he deserves something, negotiate with him on that amount. If not, find another attorney who is completely independent of your guy.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A lot of my friends have decided to give blood, and they want to do it together as a sign of solidarity. This was precipitated by a request that was sent out by the American Red Cross. My friends, who are all college students or in the first years of work, say they could use the extra cash they will get. Plus, they will be doing good.
I looked into it, and I don’t think the Red Cross pays for blood. I read that some companies do, but that’s not even my issue. A few years ago, I was infected with hepatitis C. My health is under control now, but I’m sure my blood will be rejected. My friends don’t know my status, and I don’t really want to tell them. I also do not want to join them for their trip to the blood bank. What can I say to them? -- No Blood
DEAR NO BLOOD: Encourage your friends to give blood, as it is true that there is almost always a need for clean blood to be available for injured or ill people. At the same time, tell them that you will not be joining them. You can say that you learned years ago that it doesn’t work for you to give. You can say you tried before and were rejected. You can stop talking about it after that. There is no need for you to share your health status.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)