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Legal malpractice is a type of negligence in which a lawyer does harm to his or her client. Typically, this concerns lawyers acting in their own interests, lawyers breaching their contract with the client, and, one of the most common cases of legal malpractice, is when lawyers fail to act on time for clients.
So, you may wonder, “What can I do if my lawyer is not doing his job?”
A lawyer not doing his job is a serious issue, and you can opt to complain about your lawyer to The State Bar of California or the state where you have hired the attorney. When you file a complaint against your lawyer with the State Bar, the lawyer is investigated by the Office of Chief Trial Counsel. Following this, a decision is made on the grievance, and if the attorney is at fault, they could face suspension.
In theory, the relationship between a lawyer and his client should be pleasant, warm and simple. That is, a relationship of understanding and collaboration between parties. However, the relationship between a lawyer and his client is problematic, and when a lawyer doesn’t do his job, this can affect the outcome of the claim at hand.
Although you and your attorney have a common goal – to win the case – there are a number of obstacles that can make it difficult to achieve that common goal. All parties should maintain patience and discuss any issues to resolve any differences.
Can You Fire a Lawyer at Any Time?
Clients require their lawyers to represent them in an appropriate manner and according to their needs. As we cannot control the events of our lives, it is inevitable that at some point we may need a professional in the legal area. When that time comes, it is advisable to be prepared and know how to correctly choose a lawyer, as well as when to fire a lawyer.
Here we examine some of the disadvantages present in the relationship between a client and their lawyer. We also discuss the alternatives that a client has in case his lawyer is not doing his job properly, and provide some elements and parameters to effectively determine if the lawyer is fulfilling their role.
1. Is My Attorney Not Doing His Job?
Before rushing to take unnecessary measures against a lawyer, it is necessary to first determine if the lawyer is not fulfilling his or her role. Keep in mind that not every setback in a case implies inefficiency on the part of the lawyer.
In general, personal injury claims have a high level of complexity. Some cases are simpler than others, of course, but many can be extremely difficult. When this happens, there is a chance that the lawyer will lose the case because there are situations that will surpass the skills and experience of a professional lawyer.
However, if the case is not in your favor, do not rush to blame your lawyer. The most advisable thing is that you sit down to talk with him, to know what is happening, what the lawyer is doing to overcome the obstacles, and so on.
This may not work as expected, but it is likely that you learn new things and perhaps the lawyer will pay attention to you and detect any error in the procedures he has carried out. Or, perhaps, you will realize that the case is complex, that the fault doesn’t lie in the lawyer and that your suspicions were incorrect.
The effectiveness of this approach depends on many factors, including the lawyer’s professionalism and personality, as well as your ability to contain your emotions. Bottom line is that you are obliged to talk to your lawyer, unless you want things to get worse.
2. Can I Fire My Lawyer Before Trial?
Once you have spoken to your lawyer and have analyzed their procedures, as well as the elements of the case, you can draw a conclusion. If your suspicions have been confirmed and, indeed, the lawyer is not acting as they should be, in your best interest, then you can opt for the classic option of firing them.
People often think that lawyers cannot be fired, that their hands are tied hands and they are forced to tolerate the inefficiency of their lawyer. However, this is a false belief because lawyers can be dismissed from your case at any time.
What if you signed a commission agreement with your lawyer? Don’t worry; that’s not an obstacle to firing a them and you’re free to do so even if you’ve signed a commission agreement.
You can dismiss a lawyer at any stage of the case, meaning you can fire your lawyer either at the time a lawsuit is filed, before the trial or even during a trial. In fact, it is not uncommon to see attorney changes made by a client during the trial. However, it should be noted, if you wish to dismiss your lawyer during a trial, you will require the judge’s permission.
3. How to Fire a Lawyer
Firing a lawyer is a simple procedure. You only need to notify your lawyer and the judge (if necessary) in writing. At the same time, you should be aware of the fact that the dismissal of a lawyer is followed by a series of consequences for which you must be prepared. The most important of these consequences includes:
- The first consequence is that you must pay all the debts you have contracted with your lawyer, as well as the commissions that are stipulated in the contract you have signed with them. Before firing your lawyer, make sure you have the funds necessary to pay those debts.
- The dismissal of your lawyer can mean a legal representation vacuum. After a dispute between a lawyer and client and the latter has fired the first, the client may be left without legal representation. To counteract this problem, it is imperative to have a new lawyer ready and prepared to immediately replace the lawyer who has been fired.
- The new lawyer you hire will require new payments and fees. Additionally, if the new lawyer was hired during the trial, he will need time to get up to speed, examine all the elements of the case and formulate a better defense than the previous one, and he or she will charge the client for the “familiarization” job.
4. Find a Second Opinion
Given the reasons above, there is no doubt that dismissal of an attorney is a drastic measure and it is recommended that it be the last option to be considered. A preferable alternative is to get a second opinion.
Getting the second opinion of another lawyer or legal professional can mean less expense, as opposed to a dismissal. Additionally, a second opinion allows you to compare the perspective of your lawyer with the perspective of another professional.
When seeking a second opinion, make sure that you discuss your case with a qualified and experienced lawyer, like those at Avrek Law Firm. Also, make sure to provide the second professional with a copy of all documents and evidence relating to your case.
5. Can You Sue Your Lawyer for Not Doing His Job?
An lawyer not doing his job may be incurring professional negligence. Lawyers must adhere to a code of ethics: a set of rules that prevent a lawyer from acting or performing procedures that directly contravene the interests of his client.
Inefficient lawyers are not necessarily professionally negligent or violating the norms of their code of ethics, but if you have the slightest suspicion that your lawyer is being negligent, do not hesitate to consult with another professional to file a lawsuit against that negligent lawyer. However, it is important that you be careful with the steps you take, as lawsuits for professional negligence against lawyers are difficult to win. If you do not act correctly or do not have the necessary evidence to win the case, avoid this option.
Also, keep in mind that the last thing you want to is to have the concern of two cases at the same time. The level of stress and anxiety that can result from handling two cases is high enough to cloud your judgment and cause you to make the wrong decisions.
If you decide to sue an attorney not doing his job and you win the case, you can be sure that it will have been worth it, and you’ll be entitled to compensation that will allow you to recover from the damage caused by the negligence of your old lawyer.
When you find you need to speak with a new attorney about the professional negligence of another lawyer, Avrek Law Firm is here to help! Our legal team has an impeccable track record with more than $1 Bilion recovered for clients. Contact us or fill out a form for a free consultation.