It can be very frustrating when you feel that your lawyer is not fighting for you as you expect them to. Especially in sensitive matters such as divorce and custody legal matters, one needs to have confidence in their legal representative.
In this article, we provide tips and advice on what to do when your lawyer is not doing his job and saves you significant time and finances, and ensures a positive outcome for your case.
At the comfort of your home and without paying outrageous legal fees, we take you through what to do when your divorce lawyer does not give you all the legal support you need and does not seem to be doing his job. As you pay expensive legal fees, you have options, such as firing them, suing them, resorting to legal disciplinary actions, and getting better legal representation. We also recommend some of the things to look out for in their replacement
This article will give you tips and advice from a legal practitioner’s perspective on identifying whether your lawyer is not fighting for you effectively and what you should do in that case.
But first, what do you do after you have identified that your lawyer is not fighting for you? What’s next?
What to do if your lawyer isn’t doing his job
The following are some of the recommended steps to ensure better legal representation based on respect, honesty, and effectiveness.
– Fire them and get better representation
You deserve effective and adequate legal representation in your case, and a divorce lawyer’s incompetence might cost you more than the legal fees you might want to save on.
If you feel your lawyer is not fighting for you, start by getting better legal representation, and we will give you some tips on getting a good lawyer in the next section below.
– Sue lawyer for not doing his job: Get legal reprieve
i) Sue the lawyer for incompetence
Now that you have fired that incompetent half-baked lawyer, you have the option to sue the lawyer for their professional negligence. Like other professionals, lawyers are held to a certain standard of care towards you as their client.
Imagine your divorce lawyer forgets to ask for a specific important order in your proceeding or leaves out vital information in their submission, and that costs you that property in that divorce proceeding or make you lose custody of your children. When you sue them, you can get compensated for that emotional as well as tangible damage.
ii) State bar disciplinary actions
Other than the legal framework of court proceedings, lawyers are members of the different state bars where they are registered. Each state bar sets the criteria for licensing of lawyers, which means it is responsible for managing its members. As such, state bars have specific disciplinary action apparatuses.
As a client, you would need to file a report with the state bar regarding the lawyer’s misconduct. Should the state bar find enough evidence against the lawyer in question, the lawyer would be subject to disciplinary action. It is important to file complaints against bad lawyers, as they may be disbarred or censured publicly, saving the rest of the public from their negligence and misconduct.
So now, how do you identify that your lawyer is not fighting for you?
– Is my lawyer fighting for me?
What are the signs of a bad lawyer, or is it just in your head that the lawyer is incompetent? First, make sure that you are not overreacting, but understand that the customer/client is always right, just like in any other service. You are not asking too much from your lawyer.
Some of the red flags that your lawyer is not giving you your money’s worth are:
- S/he does not effectively communicate with you the progress of your case. You seem to be the only one continually following up with their office on that motion or order. You are entitled to receive regular updates on your case, and it should not be your role to follow up. You paid for that client memo/update in that retainer.
- S/he is ineffective in providing you good legal service. Your lawyer is committing a disservice if s/he gives you poor legal services and does not do his/her job. S/he does not show up in court hearings on time or is ill-prepared for the proper documentation the court requires; this despite you providing all the documents needed to win your case. Your lawyer seems too pre-occupied to keep up with your matter, or you seem to know more than they do about the legal aspects of the case.
- Your lawyer “soft-balling” his/her way with the opposing side and is not helping you. You expect your lawyer to get you the most benefits, but he/she is not driving a hard bargain as you would expect them to. For example, during divorce proceedings, your lawyer gets pushed around by the opposing counsel and your ex seems to be getting the longer end of the stick.
- Your lawyer ignores your explicit instructions. For example, you want to get the house during the divorce proceeding, but s/he is negotiating for the car instead. Another example is you want full custody of your children, but they seem convinced you should settle for shared custody, even though the case is stronger on your side.
Things to look out for a good lawyer
– Open and clear communication
Communication is vital to ensure you are getting the very best from your lawyer and that both of you are on the same page. You need a lawyer who is a good communicator—a person who is ready and willing to answer your calls and keep you updated on all matters.
It is essential to set and manage communication at the point of engaging them for the legal services. Having experienced the inadequate services of a lawyer who was not fighting for you, you can now set ground rules for what you think works for you as a client. Remember, and as a rule of thumb, you are the client, so you should get your money’s worth, of course, within reason.
– Good track record
The internet has brought so much information available to anyone with speed not available decades ago. With a quick internet search, it is now easy to find lawyers with a good track record in your particular area of law, such as divorce. State bars also have websites where you can effortlessly search whether a lawyer is in good standing with the bar association and those with a bad reputation of professional misconduct and negligence.
Lawyers are also happy to share their success stories, and their website will highlight any landmark cases they have won.
– A lawyers’ values and ethos
Within the first hour of interacting with your lawyer, you can tell the kind of person s/he is and what values they stand, including her/his law firm’s values. It is essential to ask yourself the crucial question of whether your values align. This alignment in values might be a critical issue that may catch up with you at some point.
For example, are you an honest and straightforward person, or does the end justifies the means for you? Do you want to win that custody case, by all means, or would you rather be fair in the proceedings?
How would you want your relationship with the opposing party to be after the legal battle?
Is it a relationship you want to preserve after the legal case? These are some of the questions and issues that determine the tactics you are willing your lawyer to deploy to get the outcome you want.
In conclusion, this article has answered your questions on whether your lawyer is not fighting for you.
Some of the tells a tale are:
- Poor communication
- Poor legal services
- They don’t seem to go the extra mile for you
As a consumer of legal services, you have the option to fire your lawyer, get better legal representation, and get compensated by suing them or taking them through disciplinary actions.
Further, now that you have the experience, you will be on the lookout for a lawyer who has a better track record, communicates better, and one whom you feel you share common values to ensure you get the results you need.
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