Hiring a professional to deal with your legal complexities is normal as it allows people to have an expert on their side to conduct case proceedings. But there are instances where professionals have caused more harm than good to their clients.
Do you think your lawyer is neglecting his duties or breaching his contract with you? Is he delaying your case hearing without giving any valid reasons? Do you not trust your lawyer anymore and suspect him of lies and deceit?
If the answer to all the above-asked questions is yes, then the chances are your lawyer is doing something he isn’t supposed to do, or he didn’t do something he was supposed to do.
You might ask yourself, “Can I sue my lawyer for poor representation?” And the answer is yes, you can!
Once you realize that your lawyer didn’t do his best to prepare for your case then you can accuse him of professional malpractice.
But before we dive deeper into that topic, we must first know about a lawyer’s obligations and duties to his client.
The Lawyer’s Obligations
A lawyer has to do more than just represent your case in court. His duties can’t be counted on one hand and you need a detailed overview of what he is expected to do for you.
We’ve curated a list of obligations that a lawyer must fulfill to help you win a case:
• A lawyer must file a lawsuit and submit other documents and papers within the given time.
• He should counsel his client on legal terms and conditions.
• He should always ask for approval before deciding on something that requires the client’s consent.
• A lawyer should always investigate the case, question the witnesses, and find new pieces of evidence to strengthen your defense.
• It is important that your lawyer prepares your case beforehand and doesn’t show up at the hearing unprepared.
• A lawyer should do everything in his power to do what he has promised he will do for you.
What Is Malpractice?
Malpractice, in general, is used when people neglect their professional responsibilities and behave improperly and conduct illegal dealings.
If you are a professional like a lawyer, your malpractice can cost you several lawsuits and in the end, ruin your reputation.
If you think your lawyer didn’t use his basic skills to represent you in front of the jury then you can sue him.
Did the Lawyer Commit Professional Malpractice?
It might have sounded easy when your friends told you to sue your lawyer for poor representation but in reality, professional malpractice is really hard to prove.
It can be a real challenge for you to prove a lawyer’s malpractice because they are famous for turning legal circumstances in their favor. If you don’t play your cards wisely, chances are that you’ll suffer more losses.
Following are the instances where a lawyer has shown professional malpractice and can be held accountable for it:
• If your lawyer has missed the deadline for filing your case then you can sue him for professional malpractice.
Filing cases and lawsuits is a lawyer’s obligation and if he can’t fulfil his basic duties then he should face the consequences.
• If your lawyer has signed a settlement or a truce with the opposite party without your consent, he has breached your trust.
It is important to note that to file lawsuit against your lawyer in this situation, you must prove that the settlement money you got is lesser than the money you would have gotten if you had won the case.
• If your lawyer is taking money out of your costs fund then you can take him to court. The money you’ve given him to cover case expenses can not be used for his personal use.
In general, any lawyer who has breached the signed contract and didn’t carry out his duties properly can be sued for professional malpractice. Moreover, if he has shared your confidential information with someone else, then you can hold him accountable in the court.
As we’ve mentioned before, it is not easy to prove professional negligence. You might think that you can file a malpractice case against your lawyer if he or she has lost your case, but you are wrong.
Following are the example where you might feel violated by your lawyer but it doesn’t mean it falls under malpractice:
• If your lawyer is hanging out with the opposition’s lawyer then it doesn’t mean he is neglecting his duties.
The only way you can call it malpractice if he shares your confidential information with that lawyer and in that case, you must provide evidence or a witness.
• Many people get upset when they are offered a settlement that doesn’t meet their expectations and when outraged, they accuse their lawyer of malpractice.
In such cases, you should seek a second opinion on your case. If your lawyer was really settling for less, then you should change the lawyer instead of suing.
It is important to remember that suing your lawyer won’t benefit you if you haven’t suffered any financial losses from his malpractice.
What steps to be taken?
Once you’ve decided that you will sue your lawyer for any of the reasons given above then you should take the following steps:
1. Change your Lawyer:
It goes without saying that you need to change your lawyer as soon as possible. But before doing so, you should talk with other lawyers for legal guidance.
Most consultant lawyers will advise you to file a complaint against your lawyer in the state’s disciplinary board.
Not all but some states have a disciplinary board to deal with professional malpractice cases. They can send notices and can discipline your lawyer without any court proceedings.
It can be considered as a legal proceeding outside of the court. You can save yourself from court hearings and more lawyer hunting through this method. A third party will foresee this process.
They will collect evidence then decide what needs to be paid. Most people prefer participating in arbitration instead of seeing the case to court.
4. Hire Specialized Lawyer:
You must hire a lawyer that has an impeccable record of winning malpractice cases.
It is important to select your lawyer wisely in the first place. Do a background check of the lawyer before hiring. This will help to prevent future unexpected events which may cause you financial losses. Sometimes it might be a good idea to with the big reputable law firm than a small firm but it does not guarantee the results since professional malpractice is mostly attached to personal attitudes.