When you have a legal issue to address, you likely do not want to try to handle the situation on your own. As a result, you reach out to an attorney who practices the particular area of law that your predicament involves. The initial consultation may have gone well, and you decided to move forward with this attorney in efforts to address your problem.
However, over time, you may have begun to feel as if your attorney was not acting in your best interests. In fact, you may have felt that he or she was not being much help to you at all or even hindering your case rather than helping it along. Now, you wonder whether your attorney committed legal malpractice.
What constitutes legal malpractice?
When you hire an attorney, he or she has a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests and has ethical obligations to handle your case with attention and care. Some ways that an attorney may not appropriately handle his or her duties include the following:
- Not responding to your attempts at communication in a timely manner or not responding at all
- Acting in a dishonest manner
- Misusing your money
- Participating in a crime
- Failing to show up to court
- Lacking the competence to effectively handle your case
- Generally not doing a good job with the legal work involved with your case
In some cases, you may be able to confront your attorney about the concerns you have and clear up the matter. For instance, if your attorney is not answering your attempts at communication, you may want to write a letter asking what the issue is. It may turn out that your attorney had an emergency or other matter to address that hindered communication. After clearing up the matter, you may once again feel confident with his or her legal counsel. Of course, that is not always the case.
If you believe that your attorney has committed legal malpractice, you may want to first look into filing complaints with the proper parties, such as state agencies or boards. In some cases, moving forward with legal action against your attorney may be warranted. As a result, you may need to reach out to another attorney who has experience in handling such matters in California and who can support you in finding effective counsel.