Hiring an attorney requires a huge amount of trust. You are putting an important part of our life in someone else’s hands. Clients rarely have extensive legal knowledge, so they have to trust that their attorney is a reliable person who knows what he is doing. In the attorney-client relationship, it is the responsibility of the attorney to act as a diligent advocate.
However, there are some attorneys who abuse this relationship and take advantage of their clients. This could include overcharging them for legal services, mishandling their case or even neglecting their case entirely. This is considered legal malpractice, and it happens all too frequently. If you believe that your attorney has is committing malpractice, these are the steps that you should take.
1) Try to contact your attorney
The first step is to voice your concerns to your attorney. It is important to be persistent and attempt several methods of contact, including phone calls, emails and visiting the office in person. You may also wish to write a formal letter specifying your concerns. Send it by certified mail and request a signature upon delivery to guarantee that it was received. It is possible that your attorney was simply too preoccupied to contact you, or that it slipped his mind. But if your attorney is consistently ignoring you, it is time to take another step.
2) Keep a record of your efforts
Start documenting your efforts to get in touch with your attorney. Keep track of the time and date that called, emailed or visited them. If you speak with an assistant or staff member, record their name and the details of the conversation. You should also keep detailed records of your attorney’s transgressions and any consequences that they had for you. For example, if he missed a filing deadline and your court case had to be rescheduled.
Taking the next steps
Perhaps you have already repeatedly contacted your attorney and are keeping a detailed log of your interactions (or lack thereof). In our next blog post, we will discuss two more steps to take if you believe your lawyer is committing malpractice: Contacting a new attorney, and complaining to the state bar.