When you hire an attorney to take care of your personal matters, you want and expect appropriate care and service. If you notice that your attorney is not working professionally, ethically or efficiently and you suffer negative consequences as a result of this poor performance, you might be dealing with legal malpractice.
Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney breaches codes of conduct. The extent of this lapse in ethical and professional behavior determines whether a legal mistake rises to the level of malpractice.
Identifying potential legal malpractice
If you notice discrepancies in legal bills from your attorney or receive a statement that is not itemized for the time your attorney spent on your case, you should review the document. When an attorney working on your case lies to you or is incompetent, he is breaking the rules of legal ethics that require honesty and competency.
Inadequate legal work is also grounds for legal malpractice. Additionally, communication with your attorney is crucial in getting the appropriate legal care and respect needed to complete the job. If your attorney ignores your repeated attempts at communication, he may be violating his ethical responsibilities.
Remedying inadequate legal work
If you identify significant legal mistakes in your relationship with your attorney, there are a few steps you can take to remedy the inadequate work. You can choose to speak with your attorney or relay your concerns through a formal letter. You can elect to go through mediation in an attempt to work through any issues. You can even fire your attorney and hire someone new to complete the work.
Under more severe circumstances, you have the option to file complaints against your attorney through the state supreme court or the state bar association. You can choose to not pay your legal bills until you settle any dispute you have with your attorney.
To determine if the mistakes you discovered justify a legal malpractice lawsuit, the attorney’s actions need to be negligent and injure you, as the client, with significant damages.