The Relationship Between Attorney and Client
An attorney-client relationship can be one of the most important relationships a person enters into during his or her lifetime. 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 bankruptcy, divorce, criminal charges, a catastrophic personal injury, or a vitally important business deal. A strong attorney-client relationship can make a huge difference in that individual’s life.
Unfortunately, some attorneys can destroy that relationship by committing malpractice. Legal malpractice occurs when an attorney owes a duty to a client, breaches that duty, and the client is harmed as a result. Legal malpractice can in some cases be the result of simple negligence, and in other cases it can be intentional.
The Attorney’s Duty
Attorneys owe their clients (and in some cases, potential clients) several duties. If one of the duties is breached, a legal client or potential client could have a legal case against the attorney for malpractice. Some of an attorney’s duties to his or her clients include: 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 of confidentiality, to duty to keep clients informed about their cases, the duty to zealously represent clients, the duty to follow a client’s directions (such as in whether to settle a case or whether the client should testify), and the duty of competence (an attorney must know the law in order to represent clients, or must turn down a representation).
Those are some of the duties that are owed to clients by their attorneys. If an attorney breaches one of these duties, there can be consequences for the attorney. The attorney can be reprimanded, or in serious cases disbarred, by his or her state’s licensing agency. In some situations, an attorney can also be sued for legal malpractice.
Unfortunately, in some cases an attorney may have committed malpractice but the client may not be aware until it’s too late. If an attorney is avoiding your calls, failing to keep you apprised of what’s going on with your case, or failing to account for money that you have paid to the attorney or a settlement, those are red flags. The attorney may have simply gotten busy, but there could be something else going on as well.
If you feel that your attorney may be hiding something, you should consider directly asking the attorney for answers. For example, if an attorney fails to answer your phone calls about when your case will go to trial, she could be hiding the fact from you that she failed to file the lawsuit in time, or she could be swamped with other work and simply neglected to return your phone calls.
Contact Liberty Law If You’ve Experienced Legal Malpractice
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that every attorney owes their clients a high duty of care when handling their cases. Clients place a huge amount of trust in their attorneys, and it’s the attorney’s duty to correctly handle each case. If you feel that your attorney has committed malpractice, you are probably reluctant to call another attorney for help, which is understandable. 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.