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Six Big Signs That You’ve Hired a Bad Lawyer & How to Change That in the Future
When you’re going through a divorce, you have to place a tremendous amount of trust in the hands of an attorney. For that reason, it’s critical that you find someone that will work hard for you while zealously and ethically representing your interests. Unfortunately, there are some attorneys out there that don’t always live up to this standard.
Ideally, you can avoid poor representation by doing your own research or obtaining referrals from friends or family. However, these issues are not always foreseeable. So, you may find yourself in a situation that requires you to terminate the attorney-client relationship.
Generally speaking, you can fire a lawyer for any reason. However, if you are in the middle of a divorce, you may need to get permission from the court first. With that in mind, here are a few things to look out for to hopefully avoid being in this situation.
The Attorney Has a History of Discipline
Now, a great place to start researching a potential attorney is through the Florida Bar Association website. You can enter the lawyer’s name into the search tool and the results will tell you whether or not the person is in good standing with the Bar. This means that the attorney has paid all dues and has kept up with continuing legal education. The results will also indicate if the lawyer has a disciplinary record.
This is important because having a record involving ethical violations is a major red flag. Examples of ethical violations include:
Misappropriating client funds
Representing a client when there is a conflict of interest
Not communicating important information to a client, or
Past issues don’t necessarily indicate future performance. However, you might want to take this into consideration when hiring your lawyer.
Your Lawyer Does Not Keep You Updated
Note that a major responsibility that all lawyers have is to keep clients updated on the status of their case. This means that, upon request, the attorney must provide you with copies of documents that he or she has prepared.
However, keep in mind that this does not mean that a lawyer must immediately respond to every email or telephone call from you. Attorneys often get busy. They might be in court, where responding to your email isn’t an option. But, if a considerable amount of has passed with no response, this is probably unreasonable and might indicate that the attorney is not performing his duties.
No Consideration for Your Objectives
During your initial meeting, the attorney should at least establish some baseline goals for your case, and talk about ideal outcomes and risks. The lawyer may advise you as to what results are possible and realistic. This may conflict with what you have heard from others or personally believe.
Keep in mind that it is ultimately your decision whether to settle or take a case to trial. The attorney is responsible for strategizing on how to best achieve certain outcomes. However, he or she should not ignore your input in the matter. You should never feel as though you are being pressured to agree to anything.
Fee Arrangement Not Clear
As you might imagine, money is a critically important issue when it comes to the attorney-client relationship. To that end, a good attorney will make clear what the fees will be and how he or she will be paid. In divorce matters, this is often through an hourly rate.
The attorney should also make clear who is responsible for any administrative expenses and court fees. If the lawyer avoids these conversations or is vague on any matter related to money, this could lead to conflict down the road.
Your Attorney is Inconsiderate and Disrespectful
It almost goes without saying that an attorney should show you common courtesy at all times. This includes respecting your time and promptly showing up to meetings prepared. If you are going through a divorce or child custody battle, this is particularly important as family law lawyers know just how emotional and difficult this process can be for everyone involved.
Your Attorney Does Not Zealously Advocate For Your Interests
Finally, it must be stressed that your attorney’s number one job is to advocate for your interests. This cannot occur if he or she lacks the expertise or enthusiasm required to do so. An attorney that is not passionate about the law may not devote sufficient attention to your case or be able to do the hard work necessary to represent you.