Can you trust your attorney? Don't miss these red flags

An incompetent or corrupt attorney can ruin your case. I got a call the other day from someone looking for an expert witness for a legal malpractice case. It was a somewhat unusual call. Their attorney should be the one finding people who can review the case and testify as a witness. If they are asking their client to do this, it's a red flag.

An attorney who handles legal malpractice, or medical malpractice, should know who to call. Expert witnesses often form the core of a case. If your attorney doesn't know how to find one, they may not have the experience to handle your case. If your attorney does have these contacts but none will agree to review your case or testify, then it may be that you don't have a good case. Either way, if your attorney is having you make the calls looking for an expert, it's not a good sign.

Another red flag, since we're on the topic, is when your lawyer tells you where to receive medical treatment. If they are insisting you see doctor so-and-so, be careful. There may be an unethical relationship between the two. When an attorney is referring patients to a specific doctor all the time, you wonder what that doctor doing for them in return. You don't want this to come up at trial.

Malpractice cases are difficult to win. You need honest, respected expert witnesses on your side. They will be scrutinized by the opposing party, and if there are any red flags, the other attorney will probably spot them. Picture yourself testifying in court. When asked how you found your expert witness, it's going to look bad when you admit he's your cousin's best friend. Same goes if you have to admit that your attorney told you which doctors to see. Even worse would be having your expert admit in court that they have testified 40 times for your lawyer in the past, or having the doctor admit under oath that 20% of his patients are referred to him by your attorney.

If you see any of these red flags, take a step back. Does your lawyer know how to handle your case? Do they have the right experience? Are they building your case honestly and ethically?

I say this all the time - most attorneys are honest and hardworking. They will handle your case with your best interests in mind. However, it's not a perfect world. Some will be thinking only about how they can benefit (usually financially) from your case. Remember that you have the right to get a second opinion from a different attorney, and you can even switch altogether.



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  • I guess something I said about malpractice, and how it should also apply to legal malpractice and the IARDC applies here.

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