Most attorneys are good people at their core. They may act like asses or pursue cases that you totally disagree with, but generally speaking they aren’t any different from anyone else that you know. It’s rare to read about lawyers that are stealing from their clients or doing lots of unethical things and when you do hear about it, it’s usually when there is an article about them losing their license to practice law or because they are going to jail.
The great majority of people that we talk to who are looking for legal malpractice recommendations aren’t suing someone for being a scumbag, but because they did a terrible job on their case. But recently I got a call from someone who dealt with an attorney who should lose his license and probably have worse than that happen.
Long story short is that she hired him to file a lawsuit and he didn’t do it even though she gave him $10,000.00. She found this out by going to court and talking to a clerk there. She is a senior citizen and a very sweet woman. She had called this guy and written him multiple times without a response.
The clerk at the court told her to sue him and file a complaint with the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC). She told his secretary that if she didn’t get a full refund she was going to file a complaint.
That scared him and he did give her a refund. But before he would, he made her sign a form saying that she will not sue him nor will she turn him in to the ARDC. He went on to tell her that if she did he’d sue her and take her social security checks which she depends on to live.
What a disgusting human being. He screws up and instead of taking responsibility, he tries to scare a grandma.
I’ve never heard of anyone else behaving like this, but do know that you can’t waive away your rights to file an ethical complaint against an attorney. His making her do so was the cherry on top of the “I should lose my license” sundae. You also can’t take advantage of someone that might have a legal malpractice lawsuit against you by making them sign a waiver to get a refund.
The good news is that she can still file a complaint against him and she promised me that she would even though her threat scared her out of her mind. His lawsuit would have no basis and would go nowhere. I can’t imagine he’d even have the nerve to try.
These types of bad apples give everyone else in the business a bad name. Fortunately they are few and far between. But I’m still stunned whenever I hear these stories. I don’t know what could make someone just have no conscience that they’d steal from a grandma, lie to her and threaten her. Once you pass the point in your life that you are willing to do that you should probably quit law and do something else.
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