It can be difficult to find the right lawyer for your case – someone you feel confident in, someone with the right experience, someone you can afford. The real test is what they’ll do with your case or legal problem after they’re hired. The best thing you can do is stay involved and connected to your case. If it turns out you didn’t choose the right attorney, you can do something about it sooner rather than later. You have the right to get a new lawyer at any time, but it’s easier early on. Here are some reasons to be concerned:
You have left three messages, sent two e-mails, and yet it’s been months since you heard from them. If your attorney is not communicating with you, how can you be sure they even remember you or your case? You have no idea whether they’re taking care of things or making any progress. The main concern is that they haven’t done anything at all, and you could be in danger of missing a key deadline. And failing to keep in touch with a client, to that extreme, is just unacceptable, in my opinion. Hopefully they’ll respond when you tell them they’re fired.
Your lawyer doesn’t know what they’re doing. This could make your case take longer, cost more and even affect the outcome. How can you tell if your lawyer knows what they’re doing? You might not be able to tell, unfortunately. But if they have never handled your type of case before, you’d be right to be concerned. Don’t have your family law attorney handle your workers’ comp case. They may be an excellent divorce attorney, but that doesn’t mean they have the knowledge, experience and reputation to handle an injury case. If you suspect your lawyer doesn’t know what they’re doing, consider getting a second opinion.
Your lawyer misses a court date or other important deadline. If the statute of limitations passes, you lose your chance to file a lawsuit. If your attorney misses a court date, you could lose your case automatically. These are worst case scenarios, obviously. Not only would you need another lawyer, but you might have a malpractice case against your first attorney.
You realize your lawyer isn’t really a lawyer. This isn’t likely to happen, but it certainly has in the past. There’s an easy way to check that your attorney is licensed. Look them up here. Also, you will be able to see if their license is inactive, or if they’ve been disciplined or had their license suspended. Don’t be afraid to confront your attorney about anything you find that concerns you.
Keep an eye out for these red flags. If you see one, you don’t have to fire your attorney on the spot, but trust your instincts and do something. I often suggest setting up a meeting to talk in person about the problem. It could just be a misunderstanding, or it could be time for a new lawyer.
On another note, I almost used this photo.
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