Generally, in respect of any matter that requires legal expertise it is highly recommended that a person seek the assistance of a lawyer. However, it is not always smooth sailing when it comes to working with a lawyer. A number of clients are dissatisfied with their lawyers and as a result may want to find new lawyers to represent their case. Before deciding to fire your lawyer, it is best to evaluate whether your complaints are reasonable or not. This article and a subsequent one will discuss four categories that may be a cause of problems for clients and their lawyers.
Most problems that clients have with their lawyers fall into four categories and in rare situations, do you find a client with just one problem, usually problems spill over into two or more categories. Some of the basic rules on what a client ought to expect from his or her lawyer are outlined in the four categories below:
- Communication problems
- Competence problems
- Ethical problems
- Feet problems
Communication problems can actually result in a client thinking that his or her lawyer is a bad lawyer when in fact their lawyer is not. This is as a result of failure to communicate. Generally, a lawyer should give their client a basic description of the legal matter and let them know of the problems they should expect, how these problems will be handled and when things will happen. In addition, a lawyer should quickly return phone calls and answer questions posed by the client. While all these may seem basic, many lawyers commonly ignore these courtesies because they are so busy.
It may come as a huge shock to most people that there is no guarantee of competence when you hire a lawyer. Despite the fact that all lawyers have passed a bar exam this does not determine that they are competent. The bar exam is administered at the very beginning of a lawyer’s career and no other exam is administered thereafter. It is likely that if a client decided to complain to a bar association that his or her lawyer is incompetent, the client will receive no favorable response. This is because bar associations go after lawyers who steal or violate specific ethical rules and not after lawyers who are not very good at what they do. However, if a lawyer makes a mistake in handling a client’s legal matter that no reasonable attorney would have made and the client lost money because of it, this is called malpractice and the client can sue. Such mistakes that rise to malpractice include, not filing a lawsuit on time or doing something the lawyer should not have done like representing two clients in the same matter one a plaintiff and one a defendant. It must be noted though that malpractice lawsuits are expensive to bring and tough to win.
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