How to Handle Dealing with Inexperienced Attorneys
There are 1.33million lawyers in America.
The good and bad, young and old, experienced and inexperienced.
Attorneys, like other experts, owe a duty of care to their clients and when a person hires a lawyer, they do so trusting that their interests will be robustly and effectively represented.
An attorney-client relationship requires responsibility from both sides. The client has the right to expect competent representation from their lawyer, while for the lawyer, they expect full cooperation and honesty.
However, you may encounter an inexperienced lawyer, who may not be able to fully carry out their duties. Inexperience may be caused by several factors including;
- Age - a lawyer may be just fresh out of law school and has not worked on many cases
- Poor education - Not all law schools are the same
- Poor training - They may not have had good lawyers training them at their workplace.
- Personal incompetence - A lawyer may just be generally incompetent.
So if you find yourself with these questions, "I feel like my attorney isn't working on my case?" "My lawyer is not communicating with me?" “My lawyer doesn't seem to know what they are doing’ or “my lawyer is not well prepared for court’, it's time to act.
Here are strategies of how to handle dealing with inexperienced attorneys
Signs of an inexperienced lawyer
1. Lack of clear communication
A lawyer who doesn't communicate or return your calls and emails, means they are not keeping you adequately informed on your matter, which violates their ethical obligations. A good and experienced lawyer knows the power of communication and updating their clients even of the smallest matters.
2. Difficult to understand
A lawyer who speaks law jargon and explains matters to you in a challenging language you can't understand means they aren't experienced enough to use language that is easily understood by non-lawyers. Therefore, they can't provide you with proper counsel.
3. Contractual inconsistencies
Inexperienced attorneys may draft contracts with inconsistent provisions. The agreement's inconsistencies can lead to failed lawsuits, liability, poor representation of a client’s interests and may also cost the client lots of money.
For example, a lawyer drafting a compensation contract leaving out key points that prove your case, thus leading to a failed suit.
4. Failing to adhere to deadlines
Your lawyer must meet and adhere to the given deadlines, either by law or the court. Any disregarded deadline can cost the client dearly.
For example, in the case of injured victim lawsuits, most states have a statute of limitations giving limited time for filing a suit. In case your claim is submitted late, the client loses out on holding the defendant accountable and chances of getting compensated.
5. Failing to understand your case
Lawsuits require not just an understanding of the facts and the law, but a grasp of other external factors, which may include the politics of an issue, public opinion, among others.
An inexperienced lawyer may fail to understand your case, thus settling it soon or initiating litigation where settling would be more appropriate.Therefore, a lawyer who can't understand the totality of your case may not represent your interests adequately.
Ways of dealing with inexperienced lawyers
1. Initiate communication
In case your lawyer doesn't respond or communicate with you, start by sending a polite but firm letter stating your concerns. For example, use magical words like "if necessary, I am finding another lawyer," they may get your lawyer's attention.
Avoid threatening your legal representative with a malpractice lawsuit; this probably get them defensive and will be counter productive.
If your attorney continues to avoid your emails and letters, initiate a physical meeting. Face to face conversations are more impactful and may just get your relationship back on track.
Should all channels to initiate a smooth flow of communication fail, it's time to get another lawyer.
2. Ask for access to your file
It may be difficult for an inexperienced lawyer to update you on all the ongoings of your case as they may not have worked on a case before.
Take control of the situation by getting access to your file, make copies, and check how it's going.
3. Seek a second opinion
If you have severe doubts about the way your case is being handled, seek a second opinion. Second opinions can be gotten from other more experienced lawyers in the firm or from an entirely different law firm.
You can also ask for a more experienced lawyer to review and approve any further work done by the inexperienced lawyer to catch mistakes and ensure smooth progress.
Seeking a second opinion may become essential in deciding whether to change your current lawyer to one better suited for your matter.
4. Research/ ask questions
If you feel your lawyer is representing you in an unsatisfactory manner, do more legal research. This will enable you to educate yourself further on your legal problem, thus equip you to be able to ask the right questions.
5. Fire your Lawyer
It's in the absolute right for any client to fire their lawyer, if they feel that it is necessary.
If you have initiated communication, accessed your files, asked for a second opinion and asked the right questions but you still feel under represented, it's time to consider terminating your client-lawyer relationship.
However, dumping your inexperienced lawyer may become an expensive affair since you might have paid them in advance, and paying for a new lawyer to speed up your case may cost a lot.
Imagine a point where your lawsuit is coming up within three weeks from the point you noticed misrepresentation, and your first lawyer hasn't done much? This will be a time-consuming and monumental job for your new lawyer, and will come with a hefty price tag.
6. Sue for Malpractice
When suing your lawyer for legal malpractice, you need to show that he/she didn't use the usual amount of care and skills applied by other lawyers with similar cases. It means showing that your lawyer made mistakes that other attorneys would have noticed and avoided.
However, to win you need to showcase that
- The lawyer was supposed to follow specific laws and protocols and do something
- That she or he didn't (or did it wrong)
- And this resulted in a losing case, mistrial or inadequate representation.
In case you decide to sue your lawyer for legal malpractice, do it quickly.
Remember: Legal malpractice is expensive to pursue. Don't bother suing your lawyer if they don't have malpractice insurance and other valuable assets they can use to pay you after winning the case.
The bottom line
If you believe your lawyer is unprofessional and not representing you correctly, follow the above strategies. You can also get a second opinion from the legal experts at Aiello Harris law firm, who will be happy to handle your case with the seriousness and skill it deserves.