Last week I received a call from someone who was looking to sue their lawyer for legal malpractice. In the course of the conversation, it became clear that there was no legal malpractice case to be had as we wouldn’t be able to prove any real damages occurred to the client. That said, the lawyer this caller hired (he wouldn’t give me the name), appeared to have committed many ethical mistakes including blowing off the case and possibly taking money he wasn’t supposed to have.
I encouraged the caller heavily to call the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) so this scumbag attorney wouldn’t be able to do the same things to other clients. The caller responded, “that is only going to hurt him and not help me, so why would I want to do that?” Sigh.
Why would you do that? How about to stop the lawyer from screwing other people? Sadly this isn’t something that I haven’t heard before as most callers are only looking out for themselves and the thought of looking out for the greater good is irrelevant to them.
It’s probably why you hear stories of lawyers doing awful things and never getting punished. It takes someone to see the unethical behavior and be willing to report it. Lawyers are actually bound by law to report bad behavior if they know of it, but if I don’t know who the lawyer is, I can’t and if I don’t have first hand knowledge it makes it even harder.
This analogy may be a stretch, but there are all sorts of stories of people getting beaten or assaulted in front of a residential building where even though a lot of noise was made, no one stopped the attacker or even bothered to call the police. There’s a “not my problem” attitude among people that while it sounds odd, appears to be a natural reaction.
I’m not telling people to call the ARDC every time they aren’t happy with their lawyer. But if you are looking to sue for legal malpractice, the ARDC almost always has to be part of that discussion, especially with unethical conduct. Otherwise you an really blame yourself because (and I can’t believe I’m saying something like this) if you aren’t part of the solution you are the problem.
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