An attorney-client relationship can be very beneficial to the client when the client is in the middle of a stressful situation. Usually, an attorney is necessary at a time in life when a person is going through extreme difficulty, such as when a client is facing divorce, bankruptcy, criminal charges, or a catastrophic personal injury. A great attorney can make a huge difference in that individual’s life.
However, some attorneys can destroy that relationship by committing malpractice. Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney owes a duty to a client, the attorney breaches that duty, and the client is harmed because of the breach. In some cases legal malpractice can be the result of simple negligence, but in other cases it can be intentional.
Attorneys owe their clients and potential clients several duties. If one of the duties is breached, a client could have a potential claim against the attorney for malpractice. Some of an attorney’s duties to his or her clients include: the duty of confidentiality, the duty of loyalty (an attorney cannot represent another client whose interests are against his or her client’s interests, such as representing both spouses in a divorce action), the duty to keep clients informed about their cases, the duty to follow a client’s directions (such as in whether to plead guilty to a crime or to settle a case) and the duty of competence (an attorney must know the law in order to represent clients, or must turn down a representation).
If a lawyer breaches one of these duties, there can be serious consequences for the lawyer. The attorney can be reprimanded, or in serious cases disbarred. An attorney can also be sued for legal malpractice.
In some cases an attorney may have committed malpractice but the client may not be aware of the malpractice. If an attorney is failing to keep you informed about your case, failing to answer your phone calls or failing to account for money, those could red flags. The attorney may have simply gotten very busy, but there could be something else happening.
If you feel that your attorney may be hiding something you need to know, ask the attorney directly. If your lawyer fails to answer your phone calls about when your court hearing will occur, she could be hiding the fact from you that she failed to file the motion, or she could be swamped with other work and simply didn’t return your call.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that every attorney owes their clients a high duty of care. Clients place a huge amount of trust in their attorneys, and it is the attorney’s duty to handle each case to the best of the lawyer’s ability. If you feel that your attorney has committed malpractice, you are probably not eager to call another lawyer for help. When you do decide you are ready to pursue a claim against the attorney, call Micha Star Liberty of Liberty Law, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. She works with clients in Oakland, San Francisco, Fairfield, Tracy, Hayward, Berkeley and the surrounding cities and counties. Call her today.