Signs That You Need a New Lawyer
Posted on January 25, 2013 by Michael Martin Leaño
It can sometimes be challenging to find the right lawyer. At the very least, your lawyer has to be qualified, experienced in your legal concern, reputable and is someone you can actually afford. Even then, you’re not entirely sure about your choice until the real legal work begins. But when do you know if your lawyer is doing well or you need a new one? Here are the tell-tale signs:
Sign #1: Not returning your communications
When was the last time your lawyer communicated with you about your case? Has your lawyer refrained from returning your calls, e-mails or text messages over an extended period of time? If so, then your lawyer is probably incredibly busy, there are no new developments, or is avoiding you.
However, having a hectic schedule isn’t an excuse for not replying to a client’s communications, even if there hasn’t been any progress with the case. It is a lawyer’s professional responsibility keep their clients reasonably informed. That said, there are also clients that unreasonably ask for updates every couple of hours.
If your calls are sensibly spaced (i.e. not every hour or every day) and your attorney still fails to return phone calls, e-mails or text messages, then it’s time you start looking for a new lawyer, and perhaps make a call to the state bar.
Sign #2: Missing crucial deadlines
If you have legal troubles, then you cannot afford to miss court dates, statutes of limitation and other crucial deadlines that could prove crippling to your case if your lawyer overlooks them. If this happens, it’s time to look for another lawyer and file an additional lawsuit—a malpractice suit against your old lawyer.
Sign #3: The case isn’t progressing
Has your case stopped progressing and is making you antsy? Your lawyer may be in talks with the other side or the court dates may have been pushed back, so it’s natural to be concerned about what’s happening. This is when your lawyer is supposed to give you some updates and explain why. If you’re not satisfied with the explanation, especially if the lack of progress is taking too long (e.g. several months to a year), then it’s reasonable to start looking for another lawyer.
Sign #4: Not fighting for critical things you wanted
If you expect your lawyer to fight tooth and nail over every little thing, then you’re watching too many legal dramas. Remember, negotiations can’t always go your way; you may have to give something up to achieve your objective. However, if there are issues that you feel are non-negotiable, you think your lawyer isn’t fighting for them, and your case is suffering for it, think about hiring another attorney.
Sign #5: Never experienced your type of case
You know you’re supposed to hire a tax attorney for your tax concerns or a personal injury lawyer if you got into a car accident. But sometimes, even specialising lawyers aren’t always experienced in handling your particular concern. For instance, if you want to sue a company for product liability, you look for tort lawyers. There are many tort lawyers who are experts in reaching settlements but if your case goes to trial, take note that some have no experience in litigation.
Sign #6: You’re billed for work not performed
Has your lawyer billed you for work that wasn’t done? Speak to him or her about the disagreement over the fee and try to iron things out. If that doesn’t work, you should start looking for a new lawyer and consider contacting the state bar.
Sign #7: Did things to hurt your case
If your attorney did something to hurt your case, then you should start looking for a new attorney whether the faux pas was deliberate or not. For instance, if your lawyer proceeded to trial and risk getting an unfavourable verdict even if you wanted to settle, then by all means, fire your lawyer. You might even win a malpractice suit if you filed one.