Fire Your Lawyer It's your absolute right to fire your lawyer at any time for any reason. Give it serious consideration if you're convinced the lawyer is doing a bad job or if your relationship with the lawyer has become intolerable. But dumping a bad lawyer can be expensive.
1 Communicate. If your lawyer doesn't seem to be working on your case, talk to your lawyer and explain your concerns. 2 Get your file. If you can't find out what has (and has not) been done, you need to get hold of your file. ... 3 Research. ... 4 Get a second opinion. ... 5 Fire your lawyer. ... 6 Sue for malpractice. ...
If you have a case pending that your lawyer has mishandled, be sure to also protect your rights by taking steps to see that your case is now properly handled. My lawyer’s incompetence meant that I lost my case.
The Florida Bar’s lawyer discipline system protects the public by providing a means to address lawyer misconduct. The Florida Bar, as a prosecutorial agency, cannot and does not give individual legal service or advice to any person making allegations against a lawyer.
The Florida Bar Inquiry/Complaint Form can be downloaded from the Bar website or you may obtain the form by calling ACAP. Because information provided will become public and is subject to disclosure to the lawyer about whom you inquire, your address and telephone number cannot be withheld.
Rule 4-8.4. Misconduct. Currentness. A lawyer shall not: (a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through.
Citizens with general inquiries, or who want to file a consumer complaint, should contact the Office of Citizens Services by calling (866) 966-7226, (850) 414-3990 or filing out an online form here.
Attorney misconduct may include: conflict of interest, overbilling, refusing to represent a client for political or professional motives, false or misleading statements, knowingly accepting worthless lawsuits, hiding evidence, abandoning a client, failing to disclose all relevant facts, arguing a position while ...
Signs of a Bad LawyerBad Communicators. Communication is normal to have questions about your case. ... Not Upfront and Honest About Billing. Your attorney needs to make money, and billing for their services is how they earn a living. ... Not Confident. ... Unprofessional. ... Not Empathetic or Compassionate to Your Needs. ... Disrespectful.
In practice, district attorneys, who prosecute the bulk of criminal cases in the United States, answer to no one. The state attorney general is the highest law enforcement officer in state government and often has the power to review complaints about unethical and illegal conduct on the part of district attorneys.
One good option is to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB helps consumers settle disputes related to sales, contracts, customer service, warranties, billings, and refunds every year. It accepts complaints even if the company that's harmed you doesn't belong to the Better Business Bureau.
Perhaps the most common kinds of complaints against lawyers involve delay or neglect. This doesn't mean that occasionally you've had to wait for a phone call to be returned. It means there has been a pattern of the lawyer's failing to respond or to take action over a period of months.
Florida Bar complaints are public record. Members of the public are then able to search those historical records for information about possible disciplinary actions.
Legal malpractice is a type of negligence in which a lawyer does harm to his or her client. Typically, this concerns lawyers acting in their own interests, lawyers breaching their contract with the client, and, one of the most common cases of legal malpractice, is when lawyers fail to act on time for clients.
No matter what name the agency in your state goes by, they will have a process you can use to file a complaint against your attorney for lying or being incompetent. Examples of these types of behavior include: Misusing your money. Failing to show up at a court hearing.
If your attorney is not experienced or efficient, they may have missed a deadline or made another mistake and aren't willing to confess their error. There could also be some bad news that is entirely outside of the attorney's control.
There is no set formula for how often you will hear from your attorney. However, the key to a successful attorney client relationship is communication. Whenever there is an important occurrence in your case you will be contacted or notified.
Suspension for 90 days or less shall not require proof of rehabilitation or passage of the bar examination before reinstatement. Suspension for more than 90 days shall require proof of rehabilitation and may require passage of all or part of the Florida Bar Examination. No suspension shall be ordered for a specific period of time in excess of three years.#N#3) Emergency Suspension [Rule 3-5.2]:#N#Emergency suspension is the immediate, temporary suspension of a lawyer from the practice of law pending the imposition of final discipline. Emergency suspension may be ordered: (a) upon conviction of a “serious crime,” or (b) when the lawyer’s continuing conduct is or is likely to cause immediate and serious injury to clients or the public.#N#4) Public Reprimand [Rule 3-5.1 (d)]:#N#Public reprimand requires a personal appearance by the attorney before the Bar’s Board of Governors and is a form of discipline which declares the conduct of a lawyer improper, but does not limit the lawyer’s right to practice law.#N#5) Admonishment/Minor Misconduct [Rules 3-5.1 (a) & (b)]:#N#Admonishment is the mildest form of discipline which declares the conduct of the lawyer improper, but does not limit the lawyer’s right to practice law.#N#6) Diversion to Practice and Professionalism Program [Rule 3-5.3]:#N#Diversion is a recently enacted rule which allows matters of minor misconduct to be diverted to specific programs (FLA, Ethics School, LOMAS), completion of which will close the Bar file with a finding of no discipline.#N#7) Probation [Rule 3-51. (c)]:#N#Probation may be ordered in conjunction with any of the above, allowing a lawyer to practice law under specified conditions. It may also be imposed as a condition upon admission or reinstatement.#N#8) Other Sanctions and Remedies:#N#Other sanctions and remedies which may be imposed include: (a) restitution; (b) assessment of costs; (c) limitations upon practice; (d) appointment of a receiver; (e) requirement that the lawyer take the bar and/or professional responsibility examination; (f) requirement that the lawyer attend CLE courses; and (g) other requirements that the Court or disciplinary board deem consistent with the purposes of lawyer sanctions.#N#9) Reciprocal Discipline:#N#Reciprocal discipline is the imposition of a sanction in Florida on a lawyer who has been disciplined in another jurisdiction.#N#10) Disciplinary Resignation [Rule 3-5.1 (j)]:#N#In certain cases, an attorney may be permitted to resign from the Bar rather than face disciplinary proceedings. In such instances, resignation acts much the same as disbarment, striking the attorney’s name from bar records and requiring undergoing the full admissions process for reinstatement. Resignation may be for a term of years or permanent.
The Supreme Court has recognized that the problem of addiction must be directly confronted; a practicing attorney who is impaired can be a substantial danger to the public and the judicial system as a whole. The Court has held that,#N#[T]oo often, attorneys will recognize that a colleague suffers from [substance abuse], and be willing to ignore the problem because they do not want to hurt the individual or his or her family. This attitude can have disastrous results both for the public and for the individual attorney. If [substance abuse] is dealt with properly, not only will an attorney’s clients and the public be protected, but the attorney may be able to be restored as a full contributing member of the legal profession. The Court has the responsibility to assure that the public is fully protected from attorney misconduct. In those cases where [substance abuse] is the underlying cause of professional misconduct and the individual attorney is willing to cooperate in seeking rehabilitation, we should take these circumstances into account in determining the appropriate discipline. 18
The process of reinstatement is similar to the disciplinary process in that a petition for reinstatement is filed, a referee is appointed to hear the case, the referee receives evidence, and a recommendation is made as to whether petitioner has met the burden for reinstatement .
In accordance with the statutory mandate, the PRN emphasizes early intervention with medical practitioners in order to protect the profession and the public from impaired practitioners and to persuade or coerce the practitioner into seeking the help that he or she so desperately needs .
In Florida, the disciplinary proceedings are guided by the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and the Florida Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions . These standards provide a format to be used by Bar counsel, referees, and the Supreme Court whereby they are to consider each of the following questions before recommending or imposing appropriate discipline:#N#1) What are the professional duties violated by the attorney?#N#2) What was the attorney’s mental state at the time of the misconduct?#N#3) What is the potential or actual injury caused by the attorney’s misconduct?#N#4) Do any aggravating or mitigating circumstances exist?
The first is that addiction is a moral failing which should act as a bar to admission to the legal profession. This view sees the addicted attorney as a high risk to the profession. Its proponents are skeptical about addiction being a true disease, believe that treatment is futile, and feel that recovery is not a stable condition. 4 A n alternative view is held by professionals in the addiction treatment field and by many lawyers and judges who have witnessed recovery from addiction. This view stresses the need for understanding the nature of addictive illness, especially the features of compulsivity and denial. 5 E lsewhere in this issue Dr. Roger Goetz eloquently explains these points.
Public reprimand requires a personal appearance by the attorney before the Bar’s Board of Governors and is a form of discipline which declares the conduct of a lawyer improper, but does not limit the lawyer’s right to practice law. 5) Admonishment/Minor Misconduct [Rules 3-5.1 (a) & (b)]:
Unnecessary delays can often damage a case. If, because of overwork or any other reason, a lawyer is unable to spend the required time and energy on a case , the lawyer should refuse from the beginning to take the case. A lawyer must be able to communicate effectively with a client.
If you believe you have a valid complaint about how your lawyer has handled your case, inform the organization that governs law licenses in your state. Usually this is the disciplinary board of the highest court in your state. In some states, the state bar association is responsible for disciplining lawyers.
How a lawyer should act, in both professional and private life, is controlled by the rules of professional conduct in the state or states in which he or she is licensed to practice. These rules are usually administered by the state’s highest court through its disciplinary board.
In a lawyer-client relationship, acting responsibly involves duties on both sides—and often involves some hard work. You have a right to expect competent representation from your lawyer. However, every case has at least two sides. If you are unhappy with your lawyer, it is important to determine the reasons.
Communication. A lawyer must be able to communicate effectively with a client. When a client asks for an explanation, the lawyer must provide it within a reasonable time. A lawyer must inform a client about changes in a case caused by time and circumstances. Fees.
If your lawyer is unwilling to address your complaints, consider taking your legal affairs to another lawyer. You can decide whom to hire (and fire) as your lawyer. However, remember that when you fire a lawyer, you may be charged a reasonable amount for the work already done.
A lack of communication causes many problems. If your lawyer appears to have acted improperly, or did not do something that you think he or she should have done, talk with your lawyer about it. You may be satisfied once you understand the circumstances better. I have tried to discuss my complaints with my lawyer.
Every state has an agency responsible for licensing and disciplining lawyers. In most states, it's the bar association; in others, the state supreme court. The agency is most likely to take action if your lawyer has failed to pay you money that you won in a settlement or lawsuit, made some egregious error such as failing to show up in court, didn't do legal work you paid for, committed a crime, or has a drug or alcohol abuse problem.
If that doesn't work, as a last resort you may need to sue your lawyer in small claims court, asking the court for money to compensate you for what you've spent on redoing work in the file or trying to get the file.
If you lost money because of the way your lawyer handled your case, consider suing for malpractice. Know, however, that it is not an easy task. You must prove two things:
A common defense raised by attorneys sued for malpractice is that the client waited too long to sue. And because this area of the law can be surprisingly complicated and confusing, there's often plenty of room for argument. Legal malpractice cases are expensive to pursue, so do some investigating before you dive in.
If the lawyer is unresponsive and the matter involves a lawsuit, go to the courthouse and look at your case file, which contains all the papers that have actually been filed with the court. If you've hired a new lawyer, ask her for help in getting your file. Also, ask your state bar association for assistance.
If you can't find out what has (and has not) been done, you need to get hold of your file. You can read it in your lawyer's office or ask your lawyer to send you copies of everything -- all correspondence and everything filed with the court or recorded with a government agency.
A lawyer who doesn't return phone calls or communicate with you for an extended period of time may be guilty of abandoning you -- a violation of attorneys' ethical obligations. But that's for a bar association to determine (if you register a complaint), and it won't do you much good in the short term.
Your lawyer’s actions can have a substantial negative impact on your case, especially if they cross the line into unethical or illegal behavior. You may want to win your case, but if your attorney is breaking the law or lying to help you do so, then you are both at risk of serious consequences. Unprofessional or unethical behavior can include: 1 Arriving late or failing to show up for important meetings, or missing court dates 2 Making decisions of importance about your case without discussing it with you first 3 Missing filing deadlines, filing paperwork incorrectly or filing the wrong paperwork with the court 4 Refusing to return your calls or messages within a reasonable timeframe 5 Knowing there is a conflict of interest in your case, but proceeding despite the ethical problem
If your attorney is coming off like a used car salesman, be wary. You want an attorney who will fight for the best possible outcome, but the best of attorneys know they can never promise a positive outcome. You deserve an attorney who is honest with you, even if the truth hurts.
If you are battling for the custody of your children’s custody or struggling because you are not receiving child support, you need an attorney who will keep you apprised of every step of the process. If you continuously struggle to contact your lawyer, and they often do not return phone calls and messages , it is a bad sign.
Unprofessional or unethical behavior can include: Arriving late or failing to show up for important meetings, or missing court dates. Making decisions of importance about your case without discussing it with you first. Missing filing deadlines, filing paperwork incorrectly or filing the wrong paperwork with the court.
Your lawyer’s actions can have a substantial negative impact on your case, especially if they cross the line into unethical or illegal behavior. You may want to win your case, but if your attorney is breaking the law or lying to help you do so, then you are both at risk of serious consequences.
In the legal arena, attorneys start at the bottom and work their way up. If there is a lack of professional respect for your attorney, whether it is former clients, in the courtroom, or with their peers, it should be a red flag.
Most of the time, finding a lawyer means there is a significant stressor in your life. Making important decisions like which attorney to use, while already under stress, can seem impossible. Hopefully, this guide will make the process somewhat less daunting.
Check out Chapter 4 on Professional Conduct. Not only is a lawyer required to be loyal to clients, and work hard, but you should avoid conflicts of interest. A Florida lawyer who is “ adverse ” to an existing client may be disqualified from that case. After all, a Florida attorney is not supposed to be adverse to, or against, an existing client. In other words, lawyers don’t sue clients. Or take a position that hurts a client. Now, this does NOT mean that a lawyer has to do everything a client wants. We are not talking about a sincere fundamental disagreement on a case, for example. In many situations, a Florida attorney is also prohibited from being adverse, or against, many former clients. A March 26, 2021 Florida Lawyer Disqualification opinion was issued by the 5th District Court of Appeal. To read this opinion CLICK HERE. This DCA case also speaks about lawyers’ conflicts of interest.
A motion to disqualify a Florida lawyer will only be granted sparingly. There is a strong policy to permit Florida residents to select the counsel of their choosing . But going against this policy is the right to keep your own lawyer from being adverse to you. After all, the argument goes, there are many really good lawyers in Florida.
After all, a Florida attorney is not supposed to be adverse to, or against, an existing client. In other words, lawyers don’t sue clients. Or take a position that hurts a client.
A lawyer has a duty to avoid conflicts of interest. And a lawyer who has conflict of interest should not be permitted to try a case. A court will consider the subject matter of what you hired your lawyer for. It will also consider the subject matter of the pending trial or matter, right now. See Rule 4-1.7, Rules Regulating The Florida Bar.
Here are five bad things that lawyers should not do, and if they do, you should probably hire someone else.
Here are five bad things that lawyers should not do, and if they do, you should probably hire someone else.
Types of Attorney Malpractice 1 Negligence. To sue lawyer for negligence, you need to be able to prove the attorney didn't use the proper care in your case and missed a deadline, filed the wrong papers, didn't comply with court orders, or made other errors that were not intentional but were sloppy. Negligence happens when the attorney makes mistakes that other attorneys normally would not. 2 Breach of duty. This kind of malpractice happens when the lawyer violates his or her responsibilities to you by settling the case without your approval, not preparing the case for trial, lying to you, abandoning your case, misusing funds you provided for court costs, or misusing funds owed to you (such as a settlement amount). The attorney has not done what other attorneys would do in this type of case. 3 Breach of contract. This occurs when an attorney fails to do something he or she agreed to in your contract, such as filing your deed or patent. If the lawyer promised to do something he or she was contractually obligated to do and didn't do it, you have grounds for breach of contract.
If the attorney violated proper ethics, you can file a grievance with the ethics committee of the state bar association, which ensures all attorneys are in good standing to renew their licenses. The attorney could be disbarred or directed to pay you compensation.
When you hire an attorney, you do so with trust and confidence. Most attorneys are upstanding and do a good job for their clients. Unfortunately, there are also some bad eggs out there. If your attorney has done something wrong, you may want to consider suing a lawyer for malpractice.
Breach of contract. This occurs when an attorney fails to do something he or she agreed to in your contract, such as filing your deed or patent. If the lawyer promised to do something he or she was contractually obligated to do and didn't do it, you have grounds for breach of contract.
To win when you sue an attorney for malpractice, you need to show that: The attorney was supposed to do something. He or she didn't do it (or did it wrong) This resulted in a financial loss to you (losing the case or losing money)
It is very frustrating to feel that an attorney you trusted has let you down. Suing for malpractice is one way for you to be compensated for wrongdoing by your lawyer.
The attorney could be disbarred or directed to pay you compensation. If you are disputing a fee with your lawyer, the state also likely has a fee dispute committee that can help you obtain an out-of-court resolution. You can hire another attorney to complete or fix your case and obtain the outcome you need.